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Custom Made Italian Products

"Made in Italy" are not just words signifying a productís origin; they are a guarantee that proves superior workmanship and style. This holds true not only for the top names in Italian Manufacturing like: Armani, Gucci, Ferrari and Bulgari, but for most other products as well.

Italy has a long-standing tradition of beauty and craftsmanship which is not only found in big name products, but in the lesser- known specialty items discovered in the boutiques and the street markets. Anyone can go to the mall and buy an Armani shirt, the same shirt you can buy in Italy; the real joy in shopping is finding the hand crafted ceramic pasta bowl, or the silver bracelet, items that are unique and seem like they were made especially for you.

All over Italy, specialty products are being made. They are not mass-produced in a big factory, but by the hand of an artisan that has been doing the same thing for 30 years.  The same artisan who takes pride in his work now as he did the day he started. That is a quality hard to find in your local mall.

What to find and where to find it?

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.

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

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 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.

Gambaro & Poggi Murano Glass

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 in the world and can range from very plain and reasonably priced to being very exotic and expensive. Lace throughout Venice works on the same principal, it is hand made 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 of the south in the highly agricultural region of Campania. It controls the commerce of not only its region, but also those surrounding it. The result is that 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. for less expensive than they would be in the U.S.

Sicily/Amalfi coast, although almost opposite each other in terms of economy, 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 weeks for the item. This may still be easier than carrying a breakable item.

*Shipping items back 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

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