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20 perfect gifts for people obsessed with Italy

20 perfect gifts for people obsessed with Italy

If it wasn’t obvious, I have a bit of an obsession with Italy.

I miss the piazza, the smell of fresh sauce, the warm greetings, the sugary tomatoes. I miss the tiny macchiato that fit perfectly in my hand, the one I ordered almost every morning before class or work. I miss riding on the back of my cousin’s vespa in the morning light of the Sicilian countryside. I miss the cheese. I miss…

Okay, okay, you get it.

If you are anything like me, or have an Italophile in your life, give them a gift this season that will transport them to their favorite European peninsula. I sifted through dozens of items and picked out gifts that—yes, I want—remind me so fondly of the motherland.

Happy Holidays to my readers, friends, and family—I hope that Babbo Natale (Italian Santa Claus) and Befana (Italian Christmas Witch) give you all that you ask for this year. Without further adieu, here are 20 perfect gifts for people who love Italy.

1. A subscription to the Nonna Box

 Credit: Nonna Box

Credit: Nonna Box

I first found out about this incredibly genius subscription box on Instagram, and thought to myself, “Damn. Why didn’t I think of this?!” The Nonna box spotlights a new Nonna each month, featuring artisanal products that are unique to her specific region. The box does a fantastic job highlighting the distinctive characteristics of Italian cuisine, while also providing authentic recipes and stories about the food in a way only a true Italian Nonna could.

Nonna Box, prices vary

2. A personal sized Bialetti moka

 Credit: Bialleti / Eataly

Credit: Bialleti / Eataly

Sorry Mr. Coffee, that drip coffee just isn’t cutting it.

3-cup Bialetti Moka, $30

3. A package of Panna

 Credit: Amazon

Credit: Amazon

For those of you who don’t know what panna is, educate yourself. My father, who is a chef and you can trust, explains panna as “a thickened heavy cream used by Italians to make cream-based sauce for pasta...Americans can certainly use it in any application that calls for heavy cream.” It is weird though, you won’t find panna in the refrigerated section, which seems sketchy but apparently it isn’t (I trust Italians more with food anyway.) I like to think of panna as the OG Alfredo sauce, before Americans added cheese and nasty other things to ruin it. Panna isn’t cheese, though, but it makes for delicious creamy sauces with pancetta or even smoked salmon.

Panna, $18

4. This chic "Ciao NYC" cap

 Credit: Vita Tees

Credit: Vita Tees

So I am completely in love with Vita Tees, and the owner, Virginia Mancuso, is an awesome fellow Italophile slash effortlessly dope globetrotter. Her designs are simple but chic, and I love the fit of the t-shirts. (She was kind enough to make me a special “Ciao, Boston” shirt.) I am eyeing this “Ciao NYC” hat next, so I can rep that Italian-American pride on bad hair days.

“Ciao NYC” dad hat, $25

5. This Sicily gift box from Eataly

 Credit: Eataly

Credit: Eataly

I have a love hate relationship with Eataly. The hate stems from the depression I feel upon entering, as it brings back the fondest gastronomical memories. I can’t go into an Eataly with friends without sounding like a pretentious ass hole, pronouncing each item in Italian. I know I am doing it too, but I just can’t keep from over enunciating words like “stracciatella” and “prosciutto” when I’m in there.

Anyway, since I am Sicilian and would argue it is the best regional cuisine, the Sicilian gift box makes its way on this list.

Taormina Gift Box, $80

6. This adorable bicycle pizza slicer

 Credit: Urban Outfitter

Credit: Urban Outfitter

I just love this whimsical little pizza cutter—and the pizza lover in your life will too. It reminds me of the time I biked with my study group in the Tuscan countryside.

Pizza slicer, $21

7. This espresso-scented candle

 Credit: Anthropologie

Credit: Anthropologie

There was nothing like the intense scent of espresso brewing at the local bar—the smell alone could jolt a person awake. These candles from Anthropologie have a bunch of great ratings, so I trust this espresso candle to transport me back. Shout out to Italian bars—what we would call cafés—for confusing tourists and serving coffee instead of alcohol.

Boulangerie Jar Espresso Candle, $18

8. My favorite Italian street food cookbook

 Credit: Amazon

Credit: Amazon

My dad (chef, remember?) received this cookbook as a gift, and I pretty much stole it from him—sorry pops. The author is from Australia, and tells amazing stories about the street food she encountered in Italy. The photography in this cookbook is beautiful, and the visually stunning cover makes it the perfect display book.

Italian Street Food Cookbook, $24

9. A jar of this rare and scrumptious pistachio pesto

 Credit: Williams Sonoma

Credit: Williams Sonoma

 The pesto dish my family made me in Milan

The pesto dish my family made me in Milan

Don’t even get me started on pistachio pesto. After trying it once—sauteed with speck and tossed into pasta—I was absolutely ruined. This pesto is a product of Sicily, so it isn’t consumed as often off the island. My family in Milan spoiled me with this special meal with jars they had brought back from Bronte, Sicily (the motherland of pistachios), and they were so excited to introduce this sauce to me.

I tried to smuggle 3 jars from Sicily to Siena on a Ryanair flight in 2016 (prior to the whole Italian airline pesto clearance laws...SERIOUSLY?!) to recreate the dish for my friends, but the Italian TSA wouldn’t let me through security. I was PISSED. As I begrudgingly handed over my three jars of pistachio pesto to the security guard, I felt my Nonna enter my body as I muttered in Italian “looks like you’ll be eating a good meal tonight!” I couldn’t believe I had just sassed an Italian TSA agent over 3 jars of pesto. But, then again, that’s just what pistachio pesto will do to a you.

Pistachio pesto, $18

10. This beach towel that will transport you to Positano

 Credit: Chloe and Isabel

Credit: Chloe and Isabel

Positano is just as beautiful as every Sophia Loren movie and Instagram model makes it out to be. This towel by Chloe and Isabel perfectly captures the vibrancy of the buildings built up into the hillside. Ugh. I need this towel.

Positano beach towel, $50

11. This discontinued "Limoncello" jewlery collection

This jewelry set is so beautiful—Chloe and Isabel once again perfectly captures the intense colors of Southern Italy. This jewelry set has since been discontinued (PLEASE BRING IT BACK) but you can find brand new sets still selling on Ebay. I really had to dig to find these, but it was worth it because of how beautiful this set is.

Earrings, $30

Bracelet, $40

Necklace, $64

12. An Obag, the most popular bag I saw in Italy

 Credit: Obag

Credit: Obag

These bags were everywhere in Italy. At first, I thought the boxy shapes and plastic-like material were strange, but I quickly fell in love with the distinct modular design of these bags. Each one looks different, because you build your bag from the inside out. The bags come in a variety of shapes, colors, materials, and sizes, and you can always buy different attachments, transitioning your bag with the seasons.

After showing my sister and her boyfriend these bags in a boutique, she fell in love. Her boyfriend (shoutout to him) bought her one for their anniversary from an Obag boutique in Boston–and you could say I was jealous. The bags tend to be a bit pricey, but my sister says it was one of the best gifts she has ever received. (Maybe if I get a boyfriend, I’ll get an O bag too?)

O bag, prices vary

13. This adorable pasta necklace

 Credit:  Giftjewelryshop

I recently saw an article on Refinery29 that showcased this jewelry designer that I had never heard of, and their new line of stunning pasta jewelry. I was freaking out, planning to buy the penne and bow tie earrings when all the sudden I noticed the price. Part of my soul proceeded to die—this jewelry costed between $140 to $6,500.

Guess I’ll be sticking to homemade noodle jewelry, I thought. UNTIL I found these adorable—and affordable!—necklaces that won’t cause me to declare bankruptcy. Woohoo for Etsy!

Pasta necklace, $16.80 - $18.80

14. This helpful little guide book to learn Italian hand gestures

 Credit: Amazon

Credit: Amazon

Because you cannot visit Italy without knowing what the “purse hand” means. (Fun fact, I wrote my senior thesis paper on Italian hand gestures...LOL.)

Speak Italian: The Fine Art Of The Gesture, $12.50

15. This best-selling pasta machine

 Credit: Amazon

Credit: Amazon

I want to make pasta from scratch and pretend I am Aziz Ansari from Master of None season 2. Don’t judge me. Besides, nothing screams ‘la dolce vita” like homemade pasta.

Pasta machine, $75

16. A pizzelle press

 Credit: Amazon

Credit: Amazon

Tablecloth peeled back, flour dusted over the wooden table, an old metal press stained with burned oil, the faint smell vanilla and annessette in the air—Nonna’s making pizzelle. These snowflake cookies scream Christmas, but they are light enough to eat all year round. In my opinion, a pizzelle press is a very thoughtful gift.

Has anyone else ever eaten pizzelle so fast they accidentally inhale the powdered sugar and choke—but continue eating anyway? You know you have.

Pizzelle press, $44

17. An Azzurri jersey (even though they won't be in the World Cup...)

 Credit: Amazon

Credit: Amazon

Ugh. This makes me sad. But, it is still a good gift.

Azzurri jersey, $45 - $65

18. A milk frother for at-home macchiatos and cappuccinos

 Credit: Target

Credit: Target

If you get a Bialetti Moka, why not go all the way and get a milk frother too? This tiny one is even called Schiuma (which means foam in Italian), how cute!

Milk frother, $7

19. A Sophia Loren poster

Sophia Loren is an Italian goddess. She is strong, beautiful, and oozes confidence. She’ll be your daily reminder to radiate Italian bombshell vibes.

Sophia Loren Poster, $10 - $60

20. A quaint espresso cup and saucer (or an entire set!)

You can never have too many espresso cups, because every good Italian knows to put a pot of espresso on the stove when there’s company. And every good Italian knows to have a lot of company over.

Bougie Espresso cup with saucer (1), $20

Porcelain Espresso Cups and Saucers (6), $29

BONUS: A VESPA BECAUSE HAPPY HOLIDAYS

 Me on some random Vespa in Siena

Me on some random Vespa in Siena

A girl can dream.

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