Whether you live in Florence or are just here for a visit, everyone always expects you to bring uniquely Italian gifts when you return home for the holidays. We suggest you eschew tacky souvenirs in favour of something truly local. TF staff has been pounding the cobblestones to find authentic Made-in-Tuscany items for every budget.
10 euro or less
Hipsters love the retro packaging, and we love the tasty mint flavour that reminds us of grandpa's toothpaste. Made outside of Florence at Caldine.
Circa 3 euro; available at Esselunga stores in Florence.
Acqua di Rose Santa Maria Novella
A refreshing and tonic rose water that is found in every Florentine medicine cabinet, it comes from this well-known apothecary whose centuries-old recipes have always been made in Florence. The packaging is beautiful, making it a doubly appreciated gift.
9 euro for 250ml; Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, via della Scala 16, Florence.
A tree from Treedom
Florentine-based start-up Treedom plants trees in Africa that bear fruit to sustain local communities. Purchased to offset carbon dioxide consumption, you can register on their website to monitor your tree's growth.
Trees start at 5 euro; Treedom; www.treedom.net (click ‘give a tree').
Recycled wool yarn
An original gift idea for recipients who love knitting: the CO2 Neutral yarn from BettaKnit is made of recycled wool through a process called Cardato special to the Prato textile district. Maybe the person to whom you give this innovative yarn will knit you a scarf next Christmas!
3 euro per 50-gram ball; BettaKnit at www.bettaknit.com.
Cortona resident and family man Lorenzo Cherubini's musical repertoire ranges from poetic ballads to pumping dance songs, and appeals to listeners of all ages. Any of his albums are a great introduction to current Italian music and also a good way to learn the language.
9.90 euro; www.amazon.it.
A TF reader suggested this on Facebook and we thought, why not? Chestnut flour is a traditional Tuscan product from the mountainous regions (Amiata and Lunigiana, in particular) and is an important-and almost impossible to find outside of Tuscany-ingredient in castagnaccio (a savoury cake with rosemary and pine nuts) and necci (chestnut pancakes). Available in the fall and winter at most supermarkets in the region. How about packaging it with a collection of recipes from our archive at www.theflorentine.net!
About 5 euro; Coop or Conad stores in Florence and Tuscany.
11 to 50 euro
‘Triple Linda' gift set
If you've spent enough time in Italy to say you live here or wish you did, you'll love Linda Falcone's books on Italian language and culture, written in Florence and printed in Prato. This gift set includes her three books published by The Florentine Press.
30 euro; www.theflorentinepress.com.
Artusi's Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well
This classic Italian cookbook with over 790 recipes has been in print since 1891. Initially, Pellegrino Artusi had trouble finding a publisher, but soon after printing 1,000 copies at his own expense, his cookbook became a national bestseller that has shaped both Italian cuisine and identity. There is also an English version, published by the University of Toronto Press. See TF 151 for more about Artusi and his life.
44.95 euro; available at Paperback Exchange, via delle Oche 4r, Florence; www.papex.it
Biscotti di Prato Mattei
Authentic Italian biscotti come from Prato, and there is no biscotto better than those made by Antonio Mattei. A list of the many gift-box options, ranging in content and price, is available on the website. One option is gift box 104, which includes a kilo of Biscotti di Prato and Brutti ma Boni, plus one bottle of sweet wine for dipping.
30.10 euro; Mattei, via Ricasoli 20, Prato; www.antoniomattei.it.
This modular charm bracelet was created in Florence in 1987 and the choices of ‘charms' has expanded every year to include semi-precious stones, letters, and some symbols of Florence like the giglio, gelato cone, and the Duomo. A great gift that you can continue to add to each year.
Base bracelet 7 euro, plus modular pieces 16 to 55 euro; Nomination store, via Ricasoli 28r, Florence, tel 055/2398209.
50 euro and up
This resin and marble functional sculpture can be used to hang or display just about anything in the home. From the Italian design company SKITSCH, it's available at MIO, a cool new store for design lovers with lots of unique, Made in Italy gift ideas. Purchases at the store also support a Tibetan charity.
96 euro; MIO Concept Store, via della Spada 34, Florence.
Borgo de' Medici Tuscan Lunch gift box
For the foodie on your list, Borgo de' Medici is a Prato-based producer of artisan fine foods. The all-natural products have 100 percent Tuscan ingredients, which are at the base of every item. Sweet or savoury gift baskets are available; we like this savoury box with pasta, spices olive oil and sauce that can be mailed just about anywhere in the world.
45 euro plus shipping, Borgo de' Medici; at http://tinyurl.com/BdMXmas.
Empress Collection letter paper
The Pineider watermark will impress the socks off any recipient who appreciates handcrafted paper. This shop has been an institution in Florence since 1774. The Pineider box of letter paper is tissue-lined and the embossed envelopes feature hand-painted contrasting borders in lovely colours. Set of 50 sheets and envelopes:
95 euro; Pineider, Florence, tel. 055/284655: www.pineider.com (upcoming opening of new store in Piazza de' Ruccellai, just in time for Christmas 2011)
Cashmere tube-scarf from BP Studio
You can wear this heavy cashmere piece in a multitude of ways; it's an amazing layering piece that adds luxury to any outfit. Available in a range of colours. Designed and produced entirely in Italy.
Around 200 euro; BP Studio, via della Vigna Nuova 15r, Florence; www.bpstudio.it.
Richard Ginori Fine China
Founded in Florence in 1735, Richard Ginori is the leading manufacturer of fine china and porcelain artworks in Italy. Despite a lengthy and illustrious heritage, the brand has modern designs like the fine china tableware set Venezia Fil rouge, with bold but simple black-and-red patterns painted on white china or a co-branded line with Missoni's colourful motifs.
Richard Ginori Store and Factory Outlet, via dei Rondinelli 17r, Florence.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: December 16, 2011
An earlier version of this article misstated the location of the Pineider Store, which was once locatd in Piazza Signoria but will soon re-open in a new location, in Piazza de' Ruccellai.