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Seeking the perfect memento from your Italian vacation, or a unique gift for your foodie friend or family member back home? You’re in luck, as there are no shortages of options for food souvenirs from Italy.
Having visited Italy more times than we can count, and having run food tours there, we know a thing or two about selecting the perfect food souvenir from Italy.
This guide is your passport to uncovering traditional Italian food souvenirs, including some of our personal favorites that we often give purchase for ourselves, or give to friends and family.
We are sure with this guide of 19 items, that you’ll be able to find the best food souvenirs for any foodie.
19 Best Food Souvenirs from Italy
1. Authentic Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
Balsamic Vinegar is not just a condiment; it’s a tale of time, tradition, and the tender care of artisans who craft it. Aged for a minimum of 12 years, authentic Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is unlike any balsamic vinegar you are likely to find at home.
It is thick, syrupy, and sweet. You won’t want to use this balsamic on a regular salad, instead, it is best served sparingly on cheeses, meats, grilled vegetables, strawberries, and gelato.
For food enthusiasts, a bottle of authentic Balsamic Vinegar from Modena is one of the best food gifts from Italy.
Where to find balsamic vinegar: You can find authentic balsamic vinegar in specialty stores or gourmet food shops around Italy. Your best bet is to find it in Modena, or the greater Emilia-Romagna region, scattered in specialty shops and Salumerias. For the best vinegar, look for the distinctive bulb-shaped bottle, a signature of authenticity and quality.
2. Olive Oil
Olive Oil is one of the most popular Italian products, embodying Italy’s culinary tradition. Its diverse flavors vary from region to region, offering a unique tasting journey.
A bottle of premium Italian olive oil is more than a souvenir; it’s an invitation to explore the art of Italian cooking. While it may not seem flashy at first, the flavor profiles of true Italian olive oil are unlike anything you’ll find from a grocery store at home, and it will make the perfect souvenir from Italy for any foodie.
Where to find olive oil: Find premium olive oil in specialty stores or local markets, especially in regions like Tuscany, Puglia, or Liguria. For a genuine Italian experience, look for extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), known for its superior quality and rich flavor. Your journey in selecting and packaging this liquid gold is a delightful adventure, ensuring a taste of Italy’s culinary elegance accompanies you home.
With Italy producing about 5.5 billion bottles of wine annually, it stands as a testament to the country’s deep-rooted viniculture. It’s not merely about the taste but the stories, the traditions, and the passion that goes into every bottle.
The lush vineyards of Tuscany, the historic cellars of Piedmont, and the picturesque wineries of Veneto are but a few of the regions that contribute to Italy’s prestigious winemaking heritage.
Famous wines like Chianti, Barolo, and Prosecco echo the diverse terroir and the rich vinicultural traditions of these regions.
For wine aficionados, a carefully selected bottle of Italian wine is more than just a souvenir; it’s a continuation of their Italian adventure, a means to revisit the rolling vineyards and rustic wineries of Italy with every sip.
Where to find wine: Italy’s wine regions are renowned, each offering a unique blend of flavors and aromas. Whether you’re strolling through the lush vineyards of Tuscany, exploring the historic cellars of the Piedmont region, or visiting the picturesque wineries of Veneto, you’re in for a vinicultural delight.
Your best bet to finding a cherished bottle is to visit local wineries or enotecas (wine shops) where you can taste and select a white wine or red wine that resonates with your palate. If you don’t want to pack wine in your checked luggage, most wineries offer shipping direct to your door.
4. Pasta Cutters and Pasta Stamps
Not all foodie souvenirs have to be edible. Pasta cutters and stamps are ideal for the home chef who enjoys both eating and making pasta. These tools are your gateway to crafting authentic Italian pasta, allowing you to create the distinct shapes that make Italian pasta diverse and delightful.
Owning a set of quality pasta cutters and stamps is the perfect way to enhance the pasta-making experience.
Where to find Pasta Cutters and Stamps: Italy’s kitchenware stores and markets are great places to look for these tools. You may spot them in shop windows as you are walking down the street. You might have to Google kitchen stores or “Coltelleria” (knife store) to find pasta cutters and stamps. Keep your eye out for nice looking brass tools with firm, wooden handles.
5. Gnocchi Board
A Gnocchi Board is a simple yet significant tool for those who appreciate the art of creating authentic Italian gnocchi. This humble kitchen gadget is designed for rolling pieces of dough to form the classic ridges on gnocchi, which are not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional, helping the sauce cling to the pasta.
For someone who enjoys hands-on cooking and exploring different textures and techniques, a gnocchi board is the perfect gift for creating a cherished Italian dish.
Where to find a Gnocchi Board: Italy is dotted with stores carrying kitchenware that reflects the country’s rich culinary tradition. Local markets, especially in regions famous for their gnocchi, are a great place to start.
When selecting a gnocchi board, look for a solid wood construction with deep ridges for that perfect gnocchi texture. Bringing a gnocchi board home is a small yet meaningful way to continue your Italian culinary exploration, adding a touch of authenticity to your kitchen adventures.
Chocolate is always a hit, and when it comes to Italian chocolate, you’re in for a real treat. Whether you’re a self-proclaimed chocoholic or looking for a sweet souvenir for friends and family, Italian chocolate is a safe bet.
The rich, smooth textures and unique flavors encapsulate a small part of Italy’s culinary landscape, making it a delightful gift or a personal treat to reminisce about your Italian trip.
Italy is home to several renowned artisan chocolate makers, each with their own signature style and flavor profiles. Brands like Ferrero, Perugina, and Venchi have a long-standing heritage in the world of chocolate.
Don’t miss out on trying Gianduja, a sweet chocolate spread infused with hazelnut, a delicacy hailing from Turin. You can also get this delicious treat in a jar as a delicious chocolate hazelnut spread, perfect for toast, pancakes, or crepes.
Where to find Chocolate: While there are many chocolate shops dotted throughout the country, we recommend buying some from these locations if you are in any of these cities:
- Baratti e Milano (Turin)
- Guido Gobino (Turin, Milan)
- Stratta (Turin)
- Majani (Bologna)
- Roccati (Bologna)
- Rivoire (Florence)
- VizioVirtù (Venice)
- Said 1923 (Rome)
7. Parmigiano Reggiano
Parmigiano Reggiano, with its nutty flavor and granular texture, is a delightful find for culinary enthusiasts or anyone with a palate for fine cheese. Known as the king of cheese’s in Italy, it makes a perfect food gift from Italy for yourself or for a foodie friend.
This Italian cheese matures beautifully from a mild, creamy texture at 12 months to a crumbly, full-flavored delight beyond 36 months. Each age unveils a unique flavor profile, offering a unique tasting experience depending on each bite. If you aren’t sure which flavor to settle on, we recommend settling for the 24-month-old cheese.
Where to find Parmigiano Reggiano: The heartland of Parmigiano Reggiano is Emilia Romagna, especially in provinces like Parma, Modena, and Bologna. Explore local cheese shops, markets, or traditional producers to discover and bring home this vacuum packed Italian culinary gem.
8. Dried Pasta
When you think of Italy, you think of pasta. The two are inseparable. Dried pasta is a fun gift for Italian food lovers. It’s a simple yet thoughtful souvenir for any home cook.
Italy offers a vast array of pasta shapes, each with its unique appeal. From the classic spaghetti and fusilli to the more unique orecchiette and trofie, the variety is endless. Each shape holds sauce differently, offering a new culinary experience. Maybe pick out a style that you won’t find at the supermarket at home.
Where to find dried pasta: Pasta is ubiquitous in Italy, but for a special take-home version, explore artisanal pasta shops or local markets. Here, you’ll find high-quality, traditionally made pasta that transcends the ordinary. No matter where you are in Italy, you won’t have to look hard to find dried pasta for sale.
9. Biscotti / Cantucci
Know someone who has a sweet tooth? Biscotti is a perfect choice for those who appreciate a good crunch with their coffee or tea. It’s an ideal souvenir for the dessert lovers in your life.
Biscotti come in a range of flavors and textures. From the classic almond to the chocolate-dipped, there’s a biscotti to satisfy every palate. Each variety offers a unique taste of Italian baking tradition. They are a perfect treat to bring home with you from your trip.
Where to find biscotti: Italy is home to numerous bakeries that pride themselves on their biscotti. For the best experience, look for family-run bakeries or local markets where these crispy treats are baked fresh. Whether in the bustling streets of Rome or the quaint lanes of Tuscany, biscotti is a sweet find you’d surely not want to miss.
Taralli are a popular cracker eaten throughout Italy, which come from Puglia. With its subtle taste and satisfying crunch, is a great choice for those who appreciate a good Italian snack. It’s an excellent souvenir for a savory palate, and pairs well with a glass of Italian wine.
These loop-shaped crackers come in a variety of flavors including fennel, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and more.
Where to find taralli: A common find in bakeries and markets across Italy, especially in the Puglia region where they originate. For an authentic taste, seek out local bakeries or markets where they are freshly baked and flavored to tradition.
11. Dried Mushrooms
Some of the best dishes in Italy are traditionally served with mushrooms, specifically truffles and porcini mushrooms. While you cannot take fresh mushrooms home on the airplane, you can carry dried porcini mushrooms home with you to use in your pasta dishes. Dried mushrooms make for the best souvenirs.
Italy is home to an array of edible mushrooms, each with its unique flavor profile. Porcini mushrooms, renowned for their robust flavor, are a favorite among both locals and chefs. When dried, these mushrooms can be used in pasta, soups, sauces, and stews.
Where to find dried mushrooms: Look for them in local markets, gourmet food stores, or shops specializing in Italian produce. Regions known for mushroom foraging, like Piedmont and Tuscany, are good places to find high-quality dried mushrooms.
Sardines are a classic representation of Italy’s diverse and rich seafood tradition. They make a memorable souvenir for those who appreciate the simple, yet profound flavors of the Mediterranean.
These small, oily fish are not only delicious but also packed with nutrients, making them a healthy choice. Preserved sardines can be enjoyed in salads, pastas, or on a crusty piece of bread.
Where to find sardines: Coastal regions, particularly in Sicily and Sardinia, are the best places to find high-quality sardines. Visit local fish markets, or specialty food stores to find beautifully packaged sardines that you can bring home as a savory reminder of your Italian adventure.
13. Pistachio Paste
Pistachio Paste is a rich and luxurious ingredient cherished by both professional chefs and home cooks. It’s an ideal souvenir for the gourmet aficionado who revels in experimenting with authentic, high-quality ingredients.
The paste is a versatile ingredient that can elevate a variety of dishes. From spreading it on toast to enhancing desserts or savory dishes, the uses of Pistachio Paste are endless. A spoonful can transport you back to the charming streets of Bronte, the heart of Italy’s pistachio production.
Where to find Pistachio Paste: Sicily, particularly the town of Bronte, is the go-to place to get authentic pistachio paste. Look for it in local markets, specialty food stores, or gourmet shops where you can find this green gold.
If you aren’t in Sicily, you can still look at gourmet markets, including shops like Eatily to find pistachio paste. If you are wondering what to bring back from Italy, look no further than this delightful treat.
14. Ragu al Bolognese
Ragu al Bolognese is a hearty meat sauce that originates from Bologna. It’s an ideal souvenir if you want to share a taste of Bologna with someone.
The sauce is a blend of minced meat, traditionally beef and sometimes pork, slow-cooked with a medley of vegetables, wine, and a hint of tomato. It’s the heart and soul of tagliatelle al ragu, a beloved dish in Bologna.
Where to find Ragu al Bolognese: Bologna is the birthplace of this robust sauce. Venture into local markets, specialty food stores, or traditional delis (salumerie) to find a jar of authentic Ragu al Bolognese. While you can find variants in other parts of Italy, Bologna is where you’ll get the traditional taste that has made this sauce a household name.
Pesto, a fragrant blend of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and olive oil, is a gift from the heart of Liguria. It’s one of the best food souvenirs for those who love the fresh, aromatic flavors of Italy, whether it’s for personal use or gifting to a friend who appreciates Italian cuisine.
However, if you want to have a pesto party at home, Italy offers a wide variety of pesto flavors, from the traditional pesto Genovese to pesto rosso, we recommend taking home a few and trying them out.
Where to find Pesto: The region of Liguria, especially the city of Genoa, is the birthplace of pesto. Local markets, grocery stores, or specialty food shops are your best bet to find authentic, freshly made pesto. You will be able to find it in most gourmet markets throughout Italy. Look for pesto sold in tightly sealed jars that will last the airplane ride home.
16. Moka Pot
A Moka pot makes a fantastic souvenir for coffee enthusiasts. The moka pot is a classic Italian stovetop coffee maker that brews a strong, espresso-like coffee.
This iconic coffee maker is not only about brewing a morning cup but also appreciating the traditional Italian way of coffee making. Its design has stood the test of time, blending a sense of tradition with modern-day coffee brewing needs.
Where to find a Moka Pot: You’ll find Moka pots in kitchenware stores, supermarkets, or souvenir shops across Italy. The Bialetti brand is a reputable and original maker of the Moka pot, ensuring you get a durable and authentic piece to remind you of the Italian coffee culture each morning. They offer many different sizes from tiny pots for one person to large ones for six or more Italian-sized cups of coffee.
Coffee is more than just a morning ritual in Italy; it’s a cherished tradition. For those who appreciate a good brew, Italian coffee makes an exceptional souvenir.
Whether it’s for personal enjoyment or as a gift for a coffee aficionado, a pack of high-quality Italian coffee beans is sure to impress. Paired with a Moka Pot, it’s the perfect duo to recreate the authentic Italian coffee experience right at home.
Where to find coffee: Coffee is everywhere in Italy, and you’ll find it in Italian grocery stores, cafes, and specialty coffee shops. For a more memorable purchase, head to a local roastery or a well-regarded coffee shop, such as Caffe Terzi where you can not only buy but also learn about the different blends and roasting processes. We promise coffee will make one of the best food souvenirs from Italy.
18. Foodie Tote Bag
Some souvenirs are perfect because we get to eat them. Others are perfect because we get to enjoy them time and time again. If you are looking for a thoughtful Italian gift or souvenir for yourself, we recommend grabbing a tote bag that you can use in your daily life or on future travels.
This is another gift that pairs well with any of the other products listed on this page, and serves as a great way to carry all of your souvenir purchases.
Where to find a foodie tote bag: This can be a bit hit or miss, but we recommend looking at your favorite cafes, gelato shops, or local bookstores. If they don’t sell tote bags, Eatily or the Barilla store are great places to find one.
Limoncello is the quintessential Italian liqueur and is the perfect Italian food gift for anyone who appreciates the bright, zesty flavors of Italy. This lemony delight is not just a drink, but a sweet conclusion to an Italian meal, epitomizing the Amalfi Coast’s sunny, vibrant spirit.
Where to find Limoncello: Your journey for the perfect bottle of Limoncello will likely lead you to the sun-drenched coasts of Amalfi or Sorrento. However, you can find high-quality Limoncello in liquor stores across Italy. When selecting a bottle, look for Limoncello produced in the Amalfi Coast, as it’s renowned for its superior quality, allowing you to bring home a sip of Italian sunshine.
Our Favorite Food Souvenirs from Italy
Since we travel to Italy so often, we are always bringing home food gifts from Italy for us or for family and friends. While we do love everything on this list, we do have a few favorites that we bring back time and time again.
The top three Italian food products that we bring home every time are: balsamic vinegar from Modena, Parmigiano Reggiano from Parma, and chocolate.
It helps that we travel to the Emilia Romagna region every year; however, you can get Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and balsamic vinegar anywhere in Italy. Good chocolate is easier to find in the larger cities, so make sure to pick some up, especially if you’re in Bologna, Turin, or Milan!
We often buy pasta cutters, coffee, and canned goods like pistachio paste or ragu as Italian food souvenirs for family and friends. These are always a hit as Christmas gifts!
FAQ: Food Gifts from Italy
What are the customs regulations on bringing food souvenirs from Italy to the US?
The customs regulations on bringing food souvenirs from Italy to the US can vary depending on the type of food. Generally, hard cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano, sealed olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and dried pasta are allowed.
However, cured meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables are typically prohibited. It’s advisable to check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for the most updated information on bringing food items into the US from Italy.
How should I pack food souvenirs to ensure they arrive home in good condition?
To ensure your Italian food souvenirs arrive home in good condition, pack them securely in your checked luggage. Use bubble wrap or clothes to cushion delicate items like bottles of olive oil or balsamic vinegar.
Ensure that any perishable items like cheese are well-sealed and, if possible, vacuum-packed to maintain their freshness.
What are some vegan or gluten-free food souvenir options from Italy?
Italy offers a variety of vegan and gluten-free food souvenirs. Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried mushrooms, and certain types of pasta like those made from rice or corn are gluten-free.
For vegan options, consider olive oil, balsamic vinegar, taralli (check the ingredients to ensure they’re vegan), and vegan chocolates.
Are there any food markets or festivals in Italy that are ideal for finding unique food souvenirs?
Italy hosts numerous food markets and festivals that are ideal for finding unique food souvenirs. Eatily contains many unique and fun products from all of Italy, and they have stores around the country as well.
Local markets like Florence’s Mercato Centrale, Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori Market, and Bologna’s Quadrilatero are also great places to discover a wide range of Italian food souvenirs.
Some notable festivals include the Alba White Truffle Fair, the Chocolate Festival in Perugia, and the Lemon Festival in Sorrento.
Conclusion: Food Souvenirs from Italy
We hope this guide helps you find the ideal food souvenirs from Italy, either for yourself or as great gifts for loved ones. Each item on this list is a piece of Italy’s rich culinary heritage, ready to be cherished and shared.
As you explore Italy, let each souvenir be a delightful reminder of your Italian adventure. Here’s to discovering the best food souvenirs and reliving the tastes of Italy back home. Safe travels!