Top 11 Italian souvenirs to bring home from your next vacation to Italy - ouritalianjourney.com

What Italian souvenirs will you consider bringing home from your trip to Italy this year? There are always those close friends and neighbors that help you perhaps while you’re away, and of course, family members we want to bring home something to. A souvenir to let these special people know you were thinking of them while traveling in Italy. Here is a list of things you might consider bringing back home.

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Many of my suggestions depend on where you are visiting. Italy is famous for its craftsmanship and anyone would be happy to receive any of these items…

Italian Souvenirs Listed in no Particular Order:

1. Tea Towels

Easy and light to pack, tea towels from a town you’ve visited would be an addition to anyone’s kitchen. It’s one of my favorite things to bring back to family and friends. You can find them anywhere from kiosks in the streets to stores selling trinkets from the town. I use them when making fresh pasta – sprinkled with a little flour. Or covering my bread dough as it’s rising. Some are so pretty that I know several people who have framed them for their kitchen walls.

Making fresh pasta with family is a special day. ouritalianjourney.com
Final stage running the sheets through the cutter

2. Balsamic Vinegar

A specialty when in the Emilia-Romagna region and the town of Modena. This complex black liquid gold tastes incredible. This traditionally made quality vinegar is amazing on vanilla gelato and over strawberries. If you go to a family establishment such as in our experience here, they will probably ship it home if you purchase enough quantity. Because once you taste this… you’ll have enough quantity!

Amazing Experience in Modena Tasting Balsamic Vinegar, ouritalianjourney.com
(L to R:) Marcello, Gary, Ilene, Paolo

3. Beautiful Italian Souvenir – The Red Horn

The widely known classic Neapolitan lucky red charm horn is a favorite. You can find them almost anywhere as keychains and necklaces but there is something special when you purchase them in Naples. The horn dates back to at least 3,500 years ago during the Neolithic period when it was customary to hang a horn-shaped object outside the home, hoping it guaranteed fertility and well-being. It is also a well-known charm for good luck. Most noteworthy, if worn as a necklace, it’s said to protect the dreaded “Malocchio” or the evil eye. Who doesn’t need a little help from that?

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4. Murano glass is handcrafted and beautiful. You can find everything from jewelry beads to chandeliers. Murano glass is easily recognizable and exported all over the world.

5. While also in Venice, why not investigate a Venetian mask? They are unique and fun to give even to a younger family member or friend. Depending on your budget, you can find simple less expensive, and extravagant ones through Venice. They are a treasure but make sure you are not purchasing a knock-off. The value is not the same – view our post on this.

6. The island of Burano is known for its lacemaking. It is an incredible art that takes years in some cases to finish one project.

Top 11 Italian souvenirs to bring home from your next vacation to Italy - ouritalianjourney.com
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The List of Italian Souvenirs Continues…

7. Limoncello

It’s everywhere in Italy but if you are in Sorrento… it’s something special. Here you will find not only limoncello but many variations of limoncello. These include arancello (oranges), agrumello (mixed citrus), pistachiocello (pistachio nuts), meloncello (cantaloupe), licorice, and fragoncello (strawberry). Again, if purchasing in any quantity, most stores will offer shipping at an additional cost.

8. Leather in Italy

Italian leather is like nothing else in the world. It is soft and beautiful whether it be a handbag, gloves, belt, wallet, or shoes. Some of our favorite shoes we purchased in Italy are so comfortable, it’s like they were made just for us. Purchasing a pair of shoes as a souvenir would be a gift for yourself and not another person but… I say go for it. You won’t regret it!

Florence is known for its leather and there is no shortage of shops selling them. Consequently, please be aware that not all items sold as “Made in Italy” are made from Italian leather. You can read more on our post about Italian Leather and our favorite shop.

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9. Ceramics

Hand-painted ceramics are a treasure in Italy, especially along the Amalfi Coast and Sicily. Although difficult to transport, they are wonderful Italian souvenirs to bring to anyone back home. Items can range from tiny magnets to large dishes and bowls. One day I’d love to own a beautiful ceramic table!

10. Italian Gold Jewelry

Always a beautiful gift would be that of Italian 18K gold jewelry. Italian gold has a rich color unlike other 18K jewelry I’ve seen and I have to say I don’t know why. Gary and I have purchased special pieces on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. Was it the best price? I’m not sure but it has the best memories. And to me, that’s worth the extra price. And let’s face it, an easy-to-carry souvenir too!

People on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, Florence
Ponte Vecchio bridge, Florence

11. Now… Let’s Talk Food

According to the US Embassy website, the following information applies only for personal gift-giving purposes. Hence, this information we’ve included does not apply if you are going to resell as a business.

When leaving Italy, you will be asked to fill out a customs form. Customs is mainly looking for large ticket items, but if your luggage is searched and you do not have an item listed on your form, you could face fines up to $10,000. Check this US Customs website before you go!

Here are some important notes :

  • As of this post, you can take home $800 worth of items per person duty-free in your luggage. Above this amount, you will pay an extra fee.
  • You can also bring in duty-free a liter of alcohol (slightly more than a standard-size bottle of wine) but you must be 21 or over
  • 200 cigarettes, and up to 100 cigars
  • Household effects intended for personal use, such as tableware and linens, are also duty-free.
  • Thanks to limits on liquids in carry-ons, there’s an exception for some foods and liquor purchased at a duty-free shop. The shop itself should know the rules and regulations.

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US Customs

Most of all, it’s best to be upfront and not lie if you are over the limit allowed for Italian souvenirs. If those bottles of wine are for your personal consumption, and you’ve stumbled upon a nice agent, they might not even tax you. But don’t count on it.

So… What food items are allowed?

Again, check the US Customs website above for souvenir allowances. It’s just best to know ahead of time. In addition, we’ve included just an overview of items that we are always asked about by visitors wanting to bring items home.

Items that are allowed:

  • Wine and Alcohol – Passengers must be 21+ years of age, and duty rates of 3% of value per liter may be applied for anything past the first liter
  • Olive oil
  • Pasta
  • Cheese – Pasteurized hard cheeses vacuum sealed and labeled with the country of origin
  • Roasted and unroasted coffee beans 
  • Green and black tea 
  • Nuts – Nuts that have been cooked are permitted – raw nuts of any kind are not allowed 
  • Spices – Most dried spices are allowed
  • Chocolates and other candy
  • Seafood for personal use – This one surprised me. Fish can be fresh, frozen, smoked, or cooked but all must be vacuumed sealed, canned, or jarred.
  • Canned goods – Generally allowed if they don’t contain meat. Such examples would be jams and spreads.  
  • Flour or other baking items 
  • Dry fruits such as apricots, dates, figs, and raisins 
  • Truffles (mushrooms) – Allowed but in small quantities

Items that are not allowed:

  • Meat of any sort is not allowed. Yet, we have friends that say if the prosciutto is vacuum sealed, it is allowed. I don’t know what to tell you.
  • No dairy products unless it is a bottle for a child
  • Fresh fruit of any kind is not allowed
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Italian Souvenirs Conclusion

In conclusion, are these the only Italian souvenirs you can bring home to friends and family? Of course not. I thought I’d give you an idea of the most popular. Finally, most stores catering to tourists will offer shipping. Especially relevant when it comes to ceramics, Murano glass, and wine.

It is important when purchasing souvenirs to make sure they are not knockoffs from other countries. As a result, supporting local Italian artists is important to them – and to you.

Would you add any items to my list? Comment below!

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Top 11 Italian souvenirs to bring home from your next vacation to Italy - ouritalianjourney.com

10 Comments

  1. Great list of souvenirs. We have rough back most of what you have mentioned without issue or breakage. The only item that we have had trouble with are vacuum sealed salume. Sometimes it has passed customs, others times confiscated.

    One tip we have gotten from friends is to ship the souvenirs back. We always look for a DHL ship store nearby the apartment when we arrive. The Italians in those store have always been very helpful and pack things very well.

    1. It is funny Angelo that sometimes it’s okay and other times not when it comes to meat. Cheese doesn’t seem to be an issue. Great suggestion about DHL. Whatever you do – pass the word to not use the Post Office. Horrible here in Italy. The stories I could tell… (giggles) Thanks again for your continued support!

  2. Hi Ilene, I could not agree with you more as to all your suggestions for souvenirs, and I have brought back just about every one of them, and have happily contributed to the Italian economy, but over the years I have found that the two souvenirs that I treasure most is the friends that I have made while visiting Italy and the photos I have taken of the beautiful country of Italy. I continue to this day to stay in touch with the locals and visitors that I have met while traveling in, what I consider the most beautiful country of all the ones I have visited. I cannot go to Italy often enough and looking forward to meeting you later this year. 🥰

    1. I couldn’t have said it better, Evelyn! I love the saying “Memories are the most beautiful pictures our minds can paint and nothing can ever erase them.” Looking forward to meeting!

  3. Good list. Among the things we brought back last year were leather goods from Florence, limoncello in a decorative ceramic container from San Marino and commemorative lanyards celebrating the 100th anniversary of Autodromo Nazionale Monza (the Temple of Speed and hallowed ground for any Formula 1 fan). We also brought back a few thousand photos and wonderful memories of our month-long road trip around Italy.

  4. Wow! We think alike. These are the exact items that I have purchased for friends and family over the years. The tea towels are always a hit! Another thing I purchased–Sorrento inlaid wood items–music boxes, trays, coasters, etc.

  5. Great List. I’ve “smuggled” nearly all of these back at one time or another. Tea Towels are my fave too. Over the last 4-5 years, we’ve been purchasing the most wonderful Lemoncello & Orangecello at our local liquor stores. Many times, I have to order it – – but it comes directly from Italy. Our favorite brand is Caravello. My nephew even discovered a Blood Orangecello (Fabrizzio) while visiting Myrtle Beach, and that has become our new favorite. I highly recommend it. We took the bottle (finished) to the store and they ordered it with no problem. Well, honestly, NC has a problem, while NY does not…so we pick it up there when visiting.

  6. We love lemon and orangecello in the summer! I’m sure you know its even better kept in the freezer (giggles) Great info on taking the empty bottle and having a fav store order it for you! This info might help many!! Thanks for sharing.

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