It’s one thing to go to Italy and bring back photos, cheap souvenirs, and designer clothing that you could have bought at just about any department store or outlet. It’s quite another to bring back items that Italy is known for – quality leather, handmade paper, artisan chocolate, etc.
That’s why I really like two guides from publishers at The Little Bookroom: The Civilized Shopper’s Guide to Rome and The Civilized Shopper’s Guide to Florence. These little guides point you past the schlock stalls and tourist trinkets to bespoke shoemakers and tailors, antique booksellers, porcelain shops, and fabric wholesalers. Each book is divided up by various shopping walks, which you can tailor to your usual tourist itinerary.
Some of our favorite shops – such as Leone Limentani in Rome – are also in The Unofficial Guide to Central Italy. But if you’re a serious shopper or need to buy a special gift on your travels, consider picking up one or both of these pretty, practical guides.