Daily Dose of Design: 11 Things You Need to Buy When You're in Italy

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

11 Things You Need to Buy When You're in Italy

Italian markets and stores are some of the best places in the world to shop at both for food and other goods. You can't beat true Italian pasta or Italian leather! And when it comes to that Italian leather/products made in Italy, nothing is of better quality than a "Made in Italy" find. It's never, EVER easy to under-pack when going on vacation (right? I mean, I can't be the only one?!) but if you're planning a trip to Italy, I highly recommend leaving some space/weight to bring back allll of the amazing Italian things that you could possibly think of!

Something I always take into consideration when packing to go to Italy is that I'll be able to replace heavier things - like my shampoo/toiletries that I can throw away once they're empty overseas - with the things I buy. It's a win-win, basically. ;) Here's the top 10 things you *need* to make room for to bring back home with you from Italy - you'll be so glad you did!

Italian Leather Sandals - or any kind of leather shoe! There's nothing more beautiful than Italian leather and it's so easy to find a variety of handcrafted and original Italian made pieces. The entire Amalfi Coast is filled with beautifully made, leather sole sandals and shoes and all sorts of leather goods that will leave you speechless! There's even small shops that you can basically customize your own sandals (along the coast) and have them made just for you - it's a really fun experience and they're one of a kind - the best part! And like most great quality leather pieces, it's something you'll have for a really long time.

Wine - if Italy is known for anything, it's their wine! I'm very picky when it comes to my wine here at home but I tell ya, I like just about any kind in Italy! ;) Seriously, it's always fresh and just so incredible no matter what kind you prefer. Luckily wine is fairly easy to bring back to America and it may weigh more than you'd hope but it's worth every pound. ;) A lot of the brands of wine sold in Italy are also available here (I was going to bring my mom home a bottle of her favorite Amaretto but there was no point in bearing the weight since I was able to get the same brand at home) so if you're going to take on the weight, make sure it's worth it! Whether you're coming from Tuscany and have a bottle from a winery or something from a smaller producer that you can't get at home. I have opted to ship wine home due to weight restrictions but if you can, try to pack it; it saves money and there's not too many better things than pulling out a bottle of Italian wine to help make you feel better that you're no longer in la bella Italia.

Olive Oil - I LOVE OLIVE OIL. Like, I'm obsessed. There's nothing less healthy that I love more, but I can't help it. Maybe it's the Italian in me or maybe I'm just a sucker for great flavor - I don't know, but I do know that bringing back some authentic olive oil with you from Italy is one of the best things you'll do and will be SO glad you did. Check local Sunday markets for small vendors selling their homemade olive oil - best one you'll find/try EVER.

Landmark Sweatshirt - no matter where I go, I always look to get some sort of t-shirt/sweatshirt marking the location. I wear them all, all of the time and they're such a nice little memory that you'll have for such a long time! All of the bigger cities have their own landmark logos/clothing items and most of the larger international airports in Italy will have them too.

Cashmere Shawl - one of the easiest things to transport back home, and one of the prettiest most practical things you'll use forever! Having a couple of high quality cashmere pieces in your wardrobe are a must and there's no better time or place to get something so beautifully made than in Italy. You'll get use out of it while you're on your trip and a ton more when you're back home! Even during the summer months, the evenings can be chilly in Italy - especially if you're up in the mountains. Italy's cashmere shawls/ponchos are the perfect weight and they're ALWAYS priced well there. You can find them in most major cities' shops - Rome has a TON as do most other cities. You can get a look at what some of them look like here!

Delicate Jewelry - if you're not looking to spend money on designer/high end jewelry, stay far far away from Ponte Vecchio in Florence. The oldest bridge in Firenze has some of the most beautiful pieces you'll ever lay your eyes on!

Fun little story: when I was younger (about 12), my family and I were in Italy and visiting Florence for the first time. It was late afternoon and I can vividly remember being soo tired from the heat and walking around so much - I was dragging along and my dad kept telling me to hurry up, and all of a sudden we turned the corner onto Ponte Vecchio and all of the glistening gold in the shop windows was BEAMING in the sunlight and my eyes *literally* lit up! It's one of those memories I can remember so clearly, and obvi I've been a jewelry girl from a very young age. ;)

Anyway, if you're in the market for a new piece of jewelry - or need a gift for someone - then Italy is basically THE place to be for all of your jewelry needs. Some of the higher end jewelers we all know and love still have flagship stores in Italy and are incredible to visit and make purchases from.

High End Designer Buys - Europe is a gold mine for luxury shopping! It only is a bonus that most of the high end brands we all love are European - many are Italian (Gucci, Prada, Versace, Valentino, to name a few) - because they're so readily available throughout the cities of our favorite European countries. Now, it can get tricky, but if you're looking to make a high end designer purchase such as a bag or pair of shoes and you're planning a trip to Italy (or anywhere in Europe, really!) then I'd recommend waiting and purchasing it abroad.

I wouldn't say it's "cheaper" to buy luxury goods in Europe, but as Americans, there are VAT refunds for NON-EU citizens. The price differences aren't as vast as they once were due to currency changes and economic events across the globe, but there are still possible tax refunds if you aren't a European citizen. The exchange rate between the USD and Euro also play a large role in the price you'll pay; the exchange rate is always changing and it'll of course depend on when you travel, but it's worth looking into. You're not going to get a huge discount on luxury designer buys regardless, but there are ways to save a little bit here and there. And really, what's better than buying a new designer handbag from Italy? Nothing, really. :)

Hand Painted Ceramics - while it's no easy task to get something breakable back home with you, if you can get your wine home safely then you can get your beautiful, one of a kind hand painted ceramics home safely! I LOVE buying hand crafted Italian vases - especially along the Amalfi Coast and throughout Sicily. There's nothing prettier and it's incredible to think about how carefully and beautifully each piece was made by hand! The same goes for purchasing a Murano Glass piece from Milan - hard AF to transport home, but worth it!

Limoncello - if you decide to bring just one thing back from Italy (ha! yeah right!) it 110% NEEDS to be a bottle of authentic Limoncello. You guys, if you haven't had it before you need to get your hands on some ASAP. It's basically just a lemon liqueur made from fresh lemons grown in Italy but it's the most refreshing alcoholic drink you'll ever taste! It's most popular and is mostly made in Southern Italy, in places like Naples, Amalfi, Calabria and the other Southern regions. I ALWAYS bring back a bottle (or two) and keep it in the freezer and it lasts for SO long! In fact, I still have some in my freezer and now I really want some, hah! My great aunt who lived in Rome/grew up in Calabria had the most delicious Limoncello recipe and I've always wanted to make it, but I know it won't taste the same as when she made it. It's a great gift to give (who wouldn't love this stuff?!) and something you'll enjoy that'll make you feel like you're still walking around the old cobblestone paths of Amalfi, looking out at the ocean and enjoying the breeze.

Dried Pasta - the best part about buying Italian pasta to bring back home is that you can get it directly from any supermarket, couldn't be easier to find and it's pretty easy to pack too (just stick the bags in your clothes/handbags, etc)! There are SO MANY different types of pastas - to no ones surprise - and it's very difficult to choose which to bring back.

Italian Cheeses - if there's one thing that I think every single person could agree with, it's that there is NOTHING like genuine, Italian cheeses. Seriously I'm drooling just thinking about it! You can bring *most* kinds of cheese back to America from Italy and if you can find a way, do it. You will not regret it! Most cheeses (especially aged and semi-soft cheeses) are totally ok to not be refrigerated for the duration of a flight back to the states and most are easy to bring back through customs as well. The only time you may have an issue or would need to look further into what you can and can't bring back is if you want to bring any kind of soft cheese home; the U.S. is strict with certain cheeses that aren't aged and it's best to look it up based on what kind you're thinking of bringing.

Something I noticed/found out last year when coming home from Italy: you can actually buy FRESH, delicious cheese in many airports in Italy! I flew home from Capodichino in Naples and shining brightly, staring at me right from my terminal was a store selling Mozzarella di Bufala (Buffalo Mozzarella). They package it up for you in a small cooler and you can bring it home so easily. You're already passed security at this point and don't have to worry about the weight, and it's the ONLY good thing about leaving Italy, I'll tell ya that!

Things not to waste space in your luggage on that you can buy at home:

While these are popular Italian items (and seriously delicious ones at that!), in my opinion, they just aren't any different tasting than what you'd buy in America. Save the space and buy some other truly Italian goods!

  • Coffee (unless you're bringing home fresh coffee beans, you can get even the most common Italian coffee brands in America such as Lavazza)
  • Nutella
  • Biscotti

A quick tip: vacuum seal food products if at all possible; it'll keep your luggage safe and it's preferred by customs as well. Also note the sizes of your jarred/canned foods and liquids - if they're over 3.4 ounces be sure to put them in your checked luggage vs. your carry-on bag(s)!

Popular buys you cannot bring back to America:

  • Most fruits/veggies (dried fruits are usually ok - but double check depending on which fruits you're looking to bring!)
  • Nearly any type of meat product 

Happy (Italian) shopping! ;)


  1. Ok, I am so hungry after reading this fantastic post. You hit the favorites, but I caught some gems in there that I did not know about. I will have to try Limoncello. It sounds so refreshing. Living in AZ, the sandals are a sure bet to get while in Italy. Loved the post.

  2. I am on board with all of the food/drink items! Olive oil from Italy would be amazing. I love olive oil and hey, it's technically a "healthy fat" so don't be too hard on yourself!

  3. Ummmm - just reading this list made me 1) hungry HAHA and 2) want to go to Italy even worse than before. Gosh, the wanderlust is about killing me right now!

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  5. I'm 8 for 11! Looks I'll have to go back to pick up those last theee. Italy is my favorite. I could eat and shop my way through it forever. This is a great list!

  6. I wish I came across this post before I took my trip to Italy! I actually don't think I brought anything back, besides memories. I was on a 1.5 month trip with only a carry-on and honestly, I couldn't fit anything in that bag. But next time I go, I know exactly what to bring back!

  7. Italy is one of my favorite places. I brought home so much wine for my dad last tiem I went!

  8. I haven't been to Italy, but it looks beautiful. The next time someone I know goes there, I'm going to ask them to bring me home a shawl!

  9. Italian pasta for sure!!! I love everything about Italian food and will love to visit someday. I've had friends who say its much better to get luxury bags from there because its cheaper in relation to the Tax burden in the US

  10. I am definitely making some mental notes here and will be pinning this. Italy is my dream vacation, so I'll be referring back to this post when I make it out there!

  11. I'd LOVE to visit Italy someday! I know I'd go nuts on their pasta and cheeses as they're two foods we love in our household, and I'd also love to own a one-of-a-kind ceramic piece!

  12. I love Italy and I totally agree with this list... especially Limoncello!

    xo Deborah
    Coffee, Prose, and Pretty Clothes

  13. What an awesome list! I cannot wait to get to Italy one day!

  14. Oooooh - what a great list! Italy is at the top of my travel bucket list. I'll have to save your post for when I visit. I've heard great things about their leather products. My current purse was made in Italy and it's so nice!!!! I bet their sandals are amazing!

  15. My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy. This post made me even more excited!!!

  16. Love this post and definitely will keep in mind for when I visit ;) Makes me want to book a trip out asap!!

    cute & little

  17. First, I would agree....no need to get Nutella! Ha! But I seriously want to go to Italy for the unique pieces and am inspired by this post to keep that in mind. Thanks!

  18. ahhh my bf and i are planning to go to italy in the spring next year! need to bookmark this ;)

  19. I need to buy all of these, but I need more the trip lol Thank you for sharing!!


  20. I am a huge fan of olive oil and cashmere sweaters!!

  21. Such great tips! I love how you listed everything you should buy while traveling in Italy, awesome :) xo, Suzanne

  22. I feel jipped I didn't bring any of this stuff at home. I usually buy a t-shirt everywhere we go, if we don't have the room, I buy shot glasses!

  23. I will keep this list in mind for the next time I travel to Italy. I love visiting but never bring anything back.

    Xx, Nailil

  24. This post makes me want to hop on a plane to Italy, pronto!! Thanks for the great tips!

  25. This makes me want to go back to Italy so bad....hopefully next summer! I'm so excited to bring back pasta, I still have some from my last trip a few years ago haha!

    The Classic Brunette

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  27. I will also buy these all things before Italy travel, Your guide is really very helpful for travelers, Thanks for sharing this information with us.

  28. A wonderful tour guide for italy tour, your guide is really very helpful for those guys who planning to visit italy.

  29. These all things are really so interesting that we can do while travelling, Thanks for sharing this tour guide with us.

  30. Good tips for next tour, i will also follow these all tips of travel that you have shared with us.

  31. Thank you for sharing this post really great and wonderful article. I am really thankful to have the information from this blog.

  32. Thanks for viewing up such wonderful information. I like this post, keep writing and give the useful pots like that.

  33. These all things i will also buy when i will go for italy tour. thanks for sharing your personal experience with us. Amazinsilk and Same day tour | Agra tour

  34. Quite a helpful dose of what they are, thank you for sharing them with us.
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