The best Christmas gift ideas from Venice & Italy
Lots of unique and beautiful Italian themed ideas for Christmas gifts!
Christmas is fast approaching and you are already dreading the crazy rush to buy the perfect present for that special person? Or simply you have run out of Christmas gift ideas?
We all know that once you’ve decided who to give your special Christmas gifts to and after having set an indicative budget for each recipient, you just have to go to the most critical point, and at the same time most fascinating one, of the pre-Christmas season: deciding what to give.
So this year make it easy on yourself: just use your mouse!
Here is a list of gifts from all over the world available at a touch of a bottom but with a unique theme: Italy and Venice (you know it always boils down to that with me!).
Hurry up and place your orders now, to allow time for that special and unique present to make its way in time for that special day!
By the way, a special thanks goes to OGVenice for inspiring me to write this list!
I decided to organise my suggestions by topics, like food related gifts, travel gifts etc.
So enjoy and I hope you will find the perfect gift you were looking for!
Food, Wine and Cooking from Italy and Venice
Stop filling your friends’ homes with unnecessary items, stop giving expensive gifts that do nothing but disturb the quiet life of the homes of your loved ones. Start giving others what you would love to receive: this year get wise and present them with food related or gourmet gifts!
Let’s start with the most classic of gifts: cookbooks!
The first one I would like to recommend is Venice Recipes Lost and Found by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi, two dear friends of mine who wrote a wonderful book on some of the most original dishes available in Venice and Veneto.
Giancarlo and Katie own few restaurants and a cooking school in London – Giancarlo is an amazing chef and Katie (as well as been an fantastic cook) is also a great food writer. They spent quite some time over here searching and testing unusual and forgotten recipes, working with some of the best chefs and cooks of the city. It was my pleasure to meet and support them during their mission to bring back to life the old culinary history of Venice. This is a book which should not be missed on the cooking library of all foodies! (and somewhere in there you can even spot me!).
Another delicious book which you should make sure to give as a present to that particular good cook who you surely know, is Secret from my Tuscan Kitchen – Divina Cucina Recipes by Judy Witts Francini. I have known Judy via Facebook and Twitter for many years now and she is my inspiration – I simply love the way she embraced the Tuscan and Italian way of cooking and even though she is very careful to carry on the traditional original recipes, she always manages to give her little twist to each dish, making them all truly hers! Judy has been teaching Italian cooking in Tuscany for many many years, so maybe another lovely present could be to organise a cooking class with her in Tuscany, see end of this section.
The last of the recipe books I would like to suggest is a cookbook by another friend of mine, the lovely and fiery Carmela Sereno Heyes – the title is Southern Italy Family Cooking.
Carmela was born in UK from an Italian family, but I have to say, having met her, she is probably more Italian than me, who I was born and bred here! The minute we met we immediately hit it off and her love for food and cooking transpires through each of her pores! She teaches Italian cooking in UK and she has been collaborating for the BBC for some time. Having four children she decided to write a book of “cucina povera”, simply delicious recipes for everyday life, ideal for those people who do not have much time for cooking but who still wants to eat healthy! Perfect gift also for those just starting to move the first steps in cooking!
Let’s move to something into which to bite our teeth in: what about some nice Italian food products from small artisans? Love from Italia offers a large selection of authentic olive oils, preserved truffles, home made pasta and much more, to tantalise and satisfy the most expert of all foodies and they delivery it straight to your door.
And don’t forget to get the most typical Italian desserts like Panettone or Pandoro (the first one filled with sultanas and candied peel, the second one a bomb of calories made of butter and eggs), you can find some of the best on the market from Eataly.
Or you could just opt for some of the most delicious wines from all over Italy. Shop The Wineries specializes in Veneto wines, the region which produces the highest number of varieties in Italy and also the highest quantity. Pick some of the best Prosecco as well as some of the best Veneto wines on offer. Or if you want a wider selection of Italian wines from the other regions, for all budgets and type of grapes, go to Vinitaly Wine Club – here you are sure to find the perfect gift for the wine connoisseur.
And now for something really special, the ideal and dream gift for any real hard-core foodie: an Italian cooking class! In Italy there are hundred of sites who offer Italian cooking lessons, spread all over the 20 regions, so I narrowed down to those offering real authentic home cooking lessons, like Divina Cucina in Tuscany, La Madonna del Piatto in Umbria, Cook In Venice in Veneto, Hotel Eliseo in Emilia Romagna.
Italy Travel gifts
For those who have a higher budget (but in some cases you do not need that much), a trip or a weekend are undoubtedly gift ideas to be reckoned with.
They are intangible Christmas gifts, so to say, that will leave indelible memories in the mind of the recipient. So be it a weekend in the Italian capital, a ski trip in the Dolomites or a food and wine tour somewhere in any of the 20 regions, perhaps staying in a farmhouse, all of these are the perfect gifts for your loved one or for those particularly close relatives. You can find some inspiration and great deals with companies like Hotelsclick, Gusto Wine Tours– you can purchase gift vouchers from them, Queenslanders Tours and Food Lovers Odyssey.
And what about a book about Italy, about travelling, about the Dolce Vita and all the experiences which you can have while visiting one of the most beautiful countries in the world?
You could start with the recently released My Love Affair with Sicily by Margie Miklas, award winning author also of Memoirs of a Solo Traveler – My Love Affair with Italy. I recently met Margie in Venice and you will love all her tales from Italy. And what about all the best tips by Victoria De Maio with Victoria’s Travel TipZ Italian Style, so you can enjoy the real Italy with its rich and delightful way of life, avoiding the culture shock, the frustration or the disappointment, and savouring the experience at its best?
Pictures, Photos and Calendars from Italy and Venice
Nothing pleases more the eye than a present which can be seen all year round, so giving a calendar means donating a gift that “lasts all year”! It’s original and customizable in many ways, but since we are talking about Italy have a look at these two beautiful calendars which I have found!
The first one is Calendario di Vecchia Casa , an amazing collection of pictures of Umbria, a fairly undiscovered area of Italy, still not overtaken by tourist – the artist is Karen Louise Taylor, a very good friend of mine, who in her spare time is going around the countryside taking beautiful pictures of the country which she decided a long time ago to make her home.
The second one is a Calendar of Venice but with a twist: a Bird S Eye Venice Wall Calendar 2015 D, with fantastic pictures of Venice from above, by Barbara Stanzi.
And for lovers of photography, a must gift is one of the best photographic book of Venice ever produced. Dream of Venice by JoAnn Locktov and world famous photographer Charles Christopher is one of the best collection of photos of Venice I have ever seen – all introduced by the inspired words of people from all over the world, all having one thing in common: the love for Venice. I had the pleasure of holding it in my hands and it is stunning!
Ahhh, can someone please find me a woman who simply does not love to receive a piece of jewellery for Christmas? So get your gift directly from Italy this year, surprise your loved one with something original, authentic but above all beautiful!
Or you could take a look at one of the best bead artists in Venice, Marisa Convento and her Venetian Dreams: unique pieces of art, all produced with original Murano glass beads – each necklace or pair of earrings is unique! You can read the story of the ladies who used to preapre the beads for export here.
Books set in Venice and Italy
And if the recipients are avid readers, why don’t you simply get fiction books set in Italy, or even better, set in Venice. Here is a list of those which I personally like the most.
The first one is by Barry Frangipane: in its “The Venice Experiment ” he tells the story (autobiographical) of his experience of one year in Venice, together with his delightful wife, renowned chef and TV personality! If you want to give laughter as a present, this is the book for it! I laughed from beginning to end and I can’t wait for another book by Barry!
The second one is a historic book which I recently read and for which I wrote a review (which you can read here). The title is The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli – it is a book which brings you back in time, to another Venice: no tourists, no cruise ships, no cheap souvenirs shop. No, this is the Venice of dreams, the Venice I wished I lived in!
Then there is a set of books, not one, by local Venetian author Alberto Toso Fei – whose mission is to keep alive all the lore, legends and stories from Venice and its people – his books (in English as well as in Italian) will give you an insight on the traditions, rituals and ways of saying of this city who was for centuries a real empire.
The last book I would love to recommend is La Serenissima ~ a story of love by Tracey-ann Martin – it is a love story set in Venice, the perfect city for love stories, romanticism and passion. Show your love!!!
I know everyone downloads everything nowadays, but I am one of those people who still loves to receive CDs (if someone out there is actually reading this, well Christmas is no far – remember me!) – so if the recipient of your gift is like me and loves Italy too, why don’t you give him/her a music CD of Italian music?
Some of my favourites are:
Vasco Rossi ‘s lastest album Sono Innocente
Cesare Cremoni ‘s latest album Logico
Francesco Renga ‘s latest album Tempo Reale
Ok, I hope my little list can give you some help to relieve the stress of shopping – personally I love going around looking for that special gift and spending hours looking for it – but most probably like every year, I will end up browsing on the net just like other millions of people and I will probably end up following my own suggestions 😉
So, Buon Natale from Venice, folks!0