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Italian Specialty Items

Anyone can go to the local shopping mall down the street and buy an Italian silk shirt from a department store, even one from a famous Italian designer. Sure the item may be of top quality and look great, but it still lacks a certain character; the character an item gets when it is hand made by a craftsman who takes great pride in his work.

Certain Italian made products are among the most prestigious in the world. Fashion and clothing, leather, home design, ceramics, jewelry, gold, silver, lace, glassware, crystal, chocolates, food items, art, sculpture, woodworking and even automobiles are all items that have gained recognition as being the best when produced in Italy.

About the same size as the state of California, Italy produces numerous top-quality items all hailing from different regions. Each region specializes in something different and creating an item just a little bit better than anywhere else.

Rome , with all of its history and Roman structures has a multitude of stores that specialize in antique items, hand painted art, and sculptures (the down side of top quality Italian workmanship is that when it comes to antiques and hand made specialty items, Italians are masters at making replicas. Be sure to ask for a certificate of authenticity when shopping for antiques). Also be prepared to pay a customs tax on antiques and artwork when entering your country. Reputable shop owners can give you specific details. Items are classified by customs and differ in the amount of tax to be paid on each.

Dolce & Gabbana -Milan, 2001

Milan, otherwise referred to as the fashion capital, boasts designer stores from all of the top names in fashion and are generally all within walking distance from each other. Along with the more popular names, what you should really look for are the smaller designers. They usually do all of their manufacturing locally if not in house and take a little extra care in the final product as to how it looks on you. Donít be surprised to see the designers themselves in the store.

Stores on the Ponte Vecchio

Florence is Italyís jewelry and leather capital. The Ponte Vecchio is lined with one jewelry store after another. Their prices are somewhat inflated because they are in a very famous high traffic area, but they too have a wide selection as well as a favorable exchange rate. People paying in U.S. dollars generally get a better deal compared to stores in the states, although jewelry stores are scattered throughout the city you may find a better deal a little further away from the bridge. Leather stores can be found all over the city. Be sure to inspect the items thoroughly before you purchase them.

Venice is Italyís glass and lace capital. Glass made on the nearby island of Murano is brought to the main city and sold by individual glass and crystal shops. Murano glass is the most popular glass in the world and can range from being very plain and reasonably priced to being very exotic and expensive. Lace throughout Venice works on the same principal, it is hand knitted on the island of Burano and shipped into the main city. Again the prices range according to style (for a little better price visitors to Venice may want to take a ferry to the islands of Murano or Burano, not only for the products but also to visit the different sites the islands have to offer).

Naples is Italyís capital in the south in the highly agricultural region of Campania. It controls the commerce of not only its region, but also those surrounding it. Naples is the center for agricultural trade in all of Italy. Visitors to the area can enjoy gourmet quality foods, pastas, olive oils, wines, etc. far less expensive than they would be in the U.S.

Sicily/Amalfi coast, although almost opposite to each other in terms of economics both produce some of Italyís finest hand painted ceramic pieces. For the most part they can be reasonably priced but keep in mind that it may be easier to allow the merchant to ship the item back through the mail or special delivery service.  In which case you may have to wait up to six week for the item. This may still be easier than carrying around a breakable item.

*Shipping by mail or delivery service requires items to pass through customs the same as though you would have brought them back yourself. U.S. Customs allows up to $200 on personal items and up to $100 on gift items to pass duty free. As long as there are not multiple packages to the same address shipped on the same day.

For more information: http://www.customs.gov/travel/travel.htm

Not everyone has the pleasure or the opportunity to scour an entire countryside buying Italian specialty items, worrying about the hassle of packing them, carrying them around and bringing them back into the country.

Using Italvista.com is the best way to shop for your Italian specialty items.

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