Italy is the kind of country that can turn even die-hard anti-shoppers into crazy people on a spending spree. There’s just so much shiny, pretty, sleek, historic, fashionable, artistic (etc etc, ad nauseum) stuff around, it’s hard to stay immune to the allure of bringing home a little bit of Italy with you.
You can, of course, pick up a knock-off Gucci bag from a sidewalk vendor (risking a €10,000 fine in the process), or a T-shirt bedazzled with the word VENICE, or even a snow-globe featuring the Pope. To get to the real heart of Italian craft, however, you’ll need to step away from the tchotchke stands and be prepared to spend more than a few euro.
You may also need a guide. Good thing there’s already a fantabulous book that serves this very purpose.
Made in Italy by Laura Morelli serves double-duty, as an excellent compendium of the artisan crafts around Italy as well as a resource for anyone actually shopping their way through the country. Morelli has broken Italy down by region, listing the various specialties shoppers should be looking for along with the cities or towns in which they can best be found. She includes information on why each item is notable and therefore worth buying, giving the shopper a bit more confidence before going into a market or antique shop. She lists price points for everything so you know what to expect. There are even listings at the end of each regional chapter with Morelli’s favorite places to shop.
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Basically, if you’re planning to buy more than postcards and souvenirs you’d be very smart to pick up a copy of this book.
The 2nd edition of the book was published in 2008, but there doesn’t appear to be anything more recent. The parts where that may be troublesome are the individual shop listings in each chapter and the price points (which may be out of date) – but the basic information on what to look for where is pretty timeless, and you can at least use the price points as a rough guide.
Laura Morelli’s book means that you’ll have all the background you need to bring home a spectacular piece of Deruta ceramics, a 25-year-old bottle of aceto balsamico from Modena, a handmade Sardinian basket, a Sicilian marionette, or – heck – a Venetian gondola, if you like – and a well-informed, fantastic story to go along with it.
Other Voices from the Italy Blogging Roundtable
What did the other members of the Italy Blogging Roundtable have to say about CRAFTS in Italy? Find out by clicking on their links below.
- ArtTrav – Stefano Giusti, Modern Luthier
- At Home in Tuscany – Wood, leather and flowers
- Brigolante – Crafts in Umbria
- Italofile – Marble Run: Shopping for Traditional Marbled Products in Italy
Italy Blogging Roundtable Archives:
Photo: Laura morelli