Artisans: tips for traditional items in Italy

Best shopping in Italy
Best shopping in Italy
Artisans in Italy turning their trade since Medieval times.

Travelling to Italy and planning to do some shopping? Looking for something special and traditional? You may want to turn your eye to the Italian artisans, or “artigiani”.

The tradition of handmade in Italy stretches back a long way throughout history, and thankfully holds strong to this day. Throughout time, artisans have been admired as highly-skilled workers, whilst Master artisans rather were those who owned their own business and held a higher status in society.

If you are looking to buy handmade items in Italy, many artisan wares are sold direct from the workshops or in specialty stores, often family-run through the generations. The skills for producing these specialty items were usually passed down by fathers and grandfathers, as is still often the case to this day.

So strong was the tradition of handcrafted goods that in Medieval times, the workers formed specialty guilds which remained until well into the 1700s.

Each region and even each town has their own range of specialty items to buy in Italy.

One highly prestigious artisan item from Venice Italy is glass from the Island of Murano. Indeed, the master glassblowers were even forbidden from leaving  Murano to stop their trade secrets from spreading. Venice’s Burano Island is well-known for its hand-woven lace. Venice is of course also famous for its handmade Carnivale masks, some of which are decorated with another signature artisan item from Venice – marbled paper.

From Sorrento come beautiful ceramics, often decorated with designs featuring the local lemons that go into making the Limoncello sweet liquor that is also famous from this Italian coastal village. Another artisan craft from Sorrento is the stunning inlaid wood items.

Florence‘s artisans produce gold and silver jewellery, wools and fabrics and leather items – all of which have rendered Florence a famous fashion hub!

In the Tuscany surrounds, you can find artisan ceramic and terracotta items with traditional shapes and designs. Then of course there is the fantastic foodie finds around Tuscany including cured meats, cheeses and wines.

In Naples, head to Via San Gregorio Armeno where you will find store after stores selling figurines for nativity scenes. The same skills have also been applied to renderings of non-Christmas statuettes of well-known figures in history and popular culture.

In Florence from 24th April-3rd May, 2015 Florence is hosting the 79th edition of the Mostra Internazionale dell’Artigianato – The International Handicrafts Trade Fair.


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