Everyone covets the beautiful life (la vita bella) as it is lived in Italy. Only a handful of other cultures around the globe are so widely admired.
Italians are masters of style and design from kitchenware to furniture, and trendsetters from foods to fashion. So it’s not surprising that people who have traveled across the various regions of Italy quickly become Italophiles, enamored with the people they’ve met and the experiences they’ve had.
Often, travelers feel the urge to take a little bit of Italy home with them, whether it’s purchasing products from Italy, adopting Italian recipes or traditions, or even incorporating a few Italian words or expressions into their own vocabulary.
We have curated a list of some of our Favorite Gifts for Italy Lovers, things that bring us joy, and that also make wonderful gifts for friends, family, neighbors, or colleagues who love all things Italian. Sometimes, they can magically transport gift recipients to Italy!
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These handmade soaps from Florence bring the fragrance of Tuscan lavender and bergamot to your home. Made by artisans, they’re beautifully packaged and ready for gift-giving. Choose from a variety of scents.
Caution: This brand of Italian cookies found on the shelves of most shops in Italy or Italian specialty stores in the U.S. are positively addictive. I’ve had the good fortune to try many varieties and the Abracci (in English, hugs) are among my favorites.
What began as a family-owned company in the Dolomite Mountains in 1812, produces luxury pens that are coveted by collectors. Engineered to last a lifetime, they are the perfect gift for writers. Most of the pens in the line have a vintage look. Since the cost of these pens can run as much as thousands of dollars, this one is considered an entry-level product.
Balsamic vinegar from Modena is definitely a culinary splurge but even when used sparingly, this "white gold" enhances the flavor of almost any dish. (It’s delicious drizzled over ice cream.) However, not all balsamic vinegars are the same. This DOP vinegar is certified by the European Union for its quality and adherence to standards. Aged for a minimum of 25 years, it shipped directly by the small producer In Modena (in the Emilia Romagna region).
Pesto is a food specialty of Genoa, the capital of Liguria. Made of a blend of basil, pinenuts, olive oil, salt, and hard cheese, like Parmigiana Reggiano, this versatile sauce is great on pasta or as a topping on chicken or fish. Filippo Berrio is one of the best-selling pesto brands on Amazon.
This whimsical poster is called La Dolce Vita (the sweet life). It depicts a bicycle beside a doorway that might be anywhere in Italy but for me, it is reminiscent of Ferrara (in Emilia Romagna), which is called the City of Bicycles because they are so ubiquitous in the city.
Actor/director/producer/writer Stanley Tucci’s newest book is written in a stream of consciousness style. This quirky memoir recounts the influences of his Italian-American immigrant family that revolved around the “preparation, serving and ingesting of food.” Tucci tells how pivotal food has been in his work as well as his relationships, and shares some of his favorite recipes — all with a dose of good humor. When diagnosed with cancer at the base of his tongue several years ago, Tucci lost his sense of taste, which inspired this opus of self-reflection.
I just finished reading this last book in the Detective Montalbano series. Published posthumously, the novel was the 28th in the popular crime fiction series created by the masterful writer, Andrea Camilleri. If you are new to Montalbano, you can start at the beginning or read them in any order you choose. These rich stories with intriguing plots and colorful characters transport viewers to Vigata, a fictional town based on the author’s recollections of his birthplace in Agrigento, and the time he spent in Ragusa, both places hilltowns in Sicily.
If you really want to set an Italian mood, listen to the music of this Italian superstar. Now 83 years old, Adriano Celentano has been singing for more than 50 years, selling millions of records, and appearing in concerts all over the world. His voice is unmistakable.
We seem to love everything in the Alessi houseware and kitchen line. Architect Michele De Lucchi designed this 6-cup stovetop espresso maker for Alessi. It makes a perfect cup of Italian coffee and its sculptural design, recognized by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), is pretty enough to keep on the stovetop or display on a shelf. Italians love coffee and Italophiles will love this coffeemaker that also comes in a 3-cup version.
Are you hooked on Italian coffee? You’ll want to have a set of right-sized cups and saucers to drink or serve espresso to guests. This attractive, space-saving, stackable set of four can be tucked on a countertop. The set is dishwasher safe, microwavable, and comes in a variety of bright colors.
This venerable gourmet chocolate company dates back more than 140 years with roots in Turin (Piemonte), one of Italy’s chocolate capitals. The company grew so popular that it has outlets in 70 countries. All the company’s delectable chocolates are made with high-quality, natural ingredients; many feature hazelnuts and pistachios from the region that will appeal to anyone with a sweet tooth. My favorites: the Cremino squares.
This food product has become a staple in my pantry adding the taste of porcini mushrooms to soups, stews and sauces. Unless they ask, you don’t have to tell anyone about the secret that adds a real Italian flavor to your cooking.
Have you found any unique gifts for Italy lovers that you would add to this gift guide?