By Ferenc Máté
January 29, 2015
Best Souvenir Shopping in Tuscany
Credit: John G. Wilbanks / Alamy

I know, I know. You want to wrap up all of Tuscany and take it home with you. Well, you can’t— because I’m not leaving.

Searching for quality souvenirs or mementos from any trip can be a challenge. Luckily, though, Tuscany is known for its ceramics, leather crafts, and hand-pressed olive oils and vinegars, in addition to our sumptuous wines. These regional crafts and packaged local food products from various cities around Tuscany (which let you skip the food and agricultural customs lines at the airport) make near-perfect souvenirs for loved ones back home.

Here are a few of my favorite shops that sell souvenirs—from cute ceramic knick-knacks to refined hand-bound journals and chocolate (which the region isn’t typically known for, but which still tastes delicious). For your dearest, I recommend gifts from a unique antique jeweler (Franco Biagetti) in San Casciano Bagni, and a family of goldsmiths (Aliseda) creating remarkable Etruscan-style jewelry in Montepulciano.

Ceramiche Bianco e Nero, Siena

This ceramics shop is a home-goods and kitchenware-lover’s paradise in the historic center of Siena. Wall-to-wall mugs, plates, bowls, teapots, and more fill the shop with their colorfully and intricately painted designs; and every piece is designed, handmade and hand-painted on the premises; when you visit you can watch ceramic artists at work.

Balducci Ceramics, San Gimignano

Just off the Piazza del Duomo in the medieval town of San Gimignano, near the cathedral’s bell tower, is the stone storefront of Balducci Ceramics. Part workshop and part store, the space is where master artisans Franco Balducci and Esther Vogeli create ceramic works of art using stone and ancient craft techniques.

Signum, Florence

Florence’s Signum is a high-quality stationery shop where you can pick up wax seals, handmade paper, leather-bound journals, artwork, historical maps, prints, and other handmade items made by local Florentine artists. This shop is not to be missed if you need a unique gift for the bibliophile in your life.

La Boutique dei Golosi, Lucca

This fancy foods market in the center of Lucca stocks many local, high-quality cooking ingredients at affordable prices. You can bring back herbs and spices, olive oils, vinegars, dry pastas, or local wines for the food-lover on your shopping list. The cozy shop often hosts tastings of their wines, olive oils, and vinegars, too.

De Bondt, Pisa

This artisanal chocolate shop near the Arno River in Pisa offers an array of luxurious chocolates, truffles, nut clusters, chocolate bars, and other sweet treats. The Dutch-owned boutique has been rated as one of the top chocolate manufacturers in the world; sample a few creations here and you’ll see why.