Whether you just want to buy a couple of affordable souvenirs or you're looking to invest in jewelry, specialty foods, art, or fashion, Italy is a shopper's paradise. Our ultimate shopping guide will help you avoid the cheap mass-produced souvenirs that can be found near most tourist attractions and steer you to artisan shops and specialty boutiques where you'll find quality merchandise.
Assisi is one of the most visited hill towns in central Italy's Umbria region. There are many shops selling souvenirs and cheap knickknacks, especially near Saint Francis Basilica, but if you're looking for a unique or special gift, there are artisan boutiques that sell art, fashion, kid's clothes, home goods, and food and wine. We recommend the following, among many others:
- Artestampa, Via S Francesco, 10C: This art shop sells beautiful woodcut prints of Assisi.
- Studio Assisi, Via Fortini 7: Find all sorts of funky clothing in this tiny boutique.
- Il Lavandeto di Assisi, Corso Mazzini 16: This family-run shop sells all things lavender, which they grow on a farm just outside of town.
Florence is a good place to shop for artisan crafts, luxurious fashions, shoes, leather, jewelry, perfume, and stationary. If you're looking for luxury brand shopping (or window shopping), head to the streets of Via Tornabuoni, Via della Vigna Nuova, and Via dei Calzaiuoli in the historic center. Around the Central Market are many stalls selling inexpensive souvenirs and clothing. Cross over the Arno for smaller specialty stores. We recommend the following boutiques (outside the high-end fashion retailers), among many others:
- Zecchi, Via dello Studio, 19R: This shop sells beautiful handmade stationary, which makes for a perfect gift or keepsake.
- Santa Croce Leather Workshop, Via S. Giuseppe, 5R: You won't find better leather goods in Florence than at this workshop, part of the Monastery of Santa Croce.
Where to Shop in Lucca
The walled city of Lucca in Tuscany offers good shops for foodies, artisan workshops, jewelry, and fashion. Via Fillungo, the main high-end shopping street, runs through Lucca's historic center, but you can find more affordable shops as well as boutiques on Via Santa Lucia and Via Buia. We recommend the following:
- Cioccolateria Caniparoli, Via San Paolino 96: Indulge in your sweet tooth at this chocolate shop.
- Edison, Via Cenami at Via Roma: This is a bibliophile's paradise, though note that most of its books are in Italian, with a few in English.
Naples is known for its nativity workshops that produce figurines and other items for Italian nativity scenes, or presepi. Most of the workshops are on or near Via San Gregorio Armeno in the historic center, and you can buy pieces to construct your own nativity scene here. For other kids of shopping, Galleria Umberto, across from the San Carlo Opera House, is a historic shopping center that's quite picturesque. Via Toledo is a street with more modern stores selling clothing and other items. There are also a number of big-name fashion labels with boutiques here, if you want to splurge. (By the way, Salvatore Ferragamo is from Naples.) We recommend the following shops in Naples:
- Mario Talarico, Vico Due Porte a Toledo 4/b: Shop for beautiful handmade umbrellas.
- Maurizio Brandi,Via Domenico Morelli 9: Maurizio Brandi's antiques are second to none in Naples.
Perugia, the largest city in central Italy's Umbria region, has shops ranging from specialty stores to artisan workshops to high-end fashion boutiques. Via dei Priori and Corso Cavour are two good streets for shopping. Perugia is also known for baci chocolates and you'll find them for sale in stores and cafés. We recommend the following shops, among others:
- Maria Antonietta Taticchi, Via dei Priori, 70: This artist sells beautiful ceramic pieces out of her shop.
- Sartoria Camiceria Lemmi, Via Guglielmo Marconi, 59: Splurge on a high-quality custom-made men's suit.
Rome offers a wide variety of shopping opportunities, including designer fashion boutiques, chain and outlet stores, flea markets, and souvenir shops. For luxury shopping, head to the area near the Spanish Steps, as well as Via Condotti, and for chain stores, try Via del Corso. We recommend the following markets and shops, among others:
- Porta Portese, Piazza di Porta Portese: This is the most popular flea market in Rome.
- Chez Dédé, Via di Monserrato 35: It doesn't get trendier than this boutique that sells everything from artworks to home decor items to clothing.
Sorrento is a charming town on the Amalfi Peninsula of Southern Italy and a good place to shop for artisanal goods. We recommend the following shops:
- Augusto & Luca's Workshop, Via Fuoro 50: Find Sorrento's famous inlaid wood goods—all made by hand—at this workshop.
- Corium Sandals, Via Degli Archi 20: Browse a large selection of handmade sandals.
Venice is one of Italy's most popular cities for tourists and there are many souvenir stands selling cheap mass-produced items. But Venice also has historic shops and boutiques selling handmade masks and glass, two products for which Venice is famous. We recommend these shops, among others:
- Papier Maché, Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa, 5174/B: Drop by to browse the high-quality Venetian masks here.
- Vetreria Artistica Archimede Seguso, Fondamenta Serenella, 18: This family-run glass workshop has been open since 1397.