There are so many things that Italy has gifted to the rest of the world: pizza, pasta, gelato and Giuseppe Verdi to name just a few! Perhaps we’re biased, but at Walkabout Florence we think that there’s one region in the country that has more than its fair share of blessings when it comes to art, culture, history and of course the amazing cuisine – and that’s Tuscany.
We absolutely love introducing visitors to the many and varied delights of this fantastic region and, when you take a Tuscany day trip from Florence with us, we guarantee you’ll get a genuine insight into the heart and soul of Italy – and have a whole lot of fun as well.
For many of our guests, being able to make the magical memories of their trip tangible and keep them fresh in their mind once they get home is really important – and, let’s face it; who wouldn’t want a perpetual reminder of this magnificent part of the world?
When you go on one of our superb excursions, you’ll have the benefit of being accompanied by our passionate and highly knowledgeable guides – and you can take it from us, what they don’t know about this place isn’t worth knowing! Having a guide doesn’t just stop at being able to learn about the history and culture, though. They’ll share their insider knowledge about the best cafes, restaurants, markets and artisan shops in a host of towns and villages that you’ll visit – which means they know exactly what makes the best and most memorable souvenirs, as well as where to get them.
Of course, you’ll no doubt happen upon plenty of things that will have a unique appeal to you, but below are some of the most popular things that you could also keep an eye out for.
Iconic Souvenir Items to Bring Back from Tuscany
Our best selling Tuscany day trip from Florence takes in more than you thought possible – but even on such an action-packed day there’ll be plenty of free time to get out and browse for the items you might want to bring back. Here’s a start…
Well, naturally! As one of the country’s most famous exports, many people come to this part of the world specifically to indulge in wine tastings at the source – in the huge number of family run wineries and prestigious, award-winning estates dotted around the countryside. The region produces countless reds and whites, many of which can only be purchased here (not for export) and the bonus is that once you’ve made the connection, you may even be able to order them to be sent to you on an on-going basis.
You’ll be able to purchase a selection of very good wines from any of the larger wine shops in Florence (try the fabulous Mercato Centrale), and most can arrange to ship it home for you if you need. But there’ll also be plenty of opportunities to buy a few bottles on your Tuscany day trip from Florence, as we visit numerous wineries (large and small) and towns like Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa. There’s nothing quite like a bottle of Chianti Classico to make all the memories of your holiday come flooding back…
Cheese and Truffles
Even if you don’t consider yourself a diehard ‘foodie’ you’ll probably be aware of some of the most famous food products associated with the region. Whether you develop a taste for such things while you’re here and want to take some back to recreate some of the dishes, or you’re looking for something tasty to take to your not-so-fortunate friends or family, this place is overflowing with delicious gourmet samples to try and buy. You might think cheese and mushrooms are odd things to take as a souvenir, but once you’ve tried the local Pecorino and truffles you’ll be clearing space for them in your suitcase!
This is where your guide will come in handy, too, because he or she will definitely be able to point you in the direction of the best cheese markets and shops at every stop on your Tuscany day trip from Florence. You’ll be able to choose your cheese at a range of larger or tucked away shops and get them vacuum packed for the journey. The absolute joy of purchasing your cheese is the chance to try before you buy – and you’ll be encouraged to sample some of the amazing local flavours that you would never get back home. Ditto for the truffles – you probably didn’t even know most of the products that you’ll be able to buy using them even existed.
The classic Tuscan take-home product, you’ll be able to find a vast range of high quality olive oils at virtually every stop on a Tuscany day trip from Florence. The tip is to steer clear of the bigger supermarkets and duck into a smaller deli or market, and always ask for a tasting, if possible. You might think oils are oils, but there’s so much to learn about the production of this most famous golden drop. Every producer has their own methods and you can purchase oils infused with chilli, truffles and all manner of other things. The most wonderful thing is that the oil really does taste different here, due not only to the soil in which the trees are grown, but also the unique blends of different types of olives the maker uses.
These crunchy little shards of deliciousness are pretty irresistible for anyone with a sweet tooth and they also make the perfect transportable gift – that’s if they make it intact without being eaten on the way! Crunchy and sweet, the base of biscotti is almonds and they go just as well with your morning coffee as with the traditional dessert wine, Vin Santo (a local speciality). Often beautifully packaged and easy to find everywhere, if you want to sound perfectly Italian, ask for cantucci…
While taking food and wine home as a souvenir might not be for everyone, the iconic ceramics of the region are an absolute winner as either a gift or for yourself (yes, we can confirm that pasta really does taste better from a traditional Italian dish!). The brightly painted handcrafted ceramics called maiolica (which date back to the fourteenth century) are instantly recognisable, and the intricate designs quite often have historical significance. But quite aside from their provenance, these ceramic pieces, which can include cups, plates, jugs, tea and coffee sets and platters are genuine works of art. San Gimignano (where you’ll visit on a Tuscany day trip from Florence with us) is a particularly good place to browse numerous artisan shops for ceramics.
Don’t be afraid of the logistics of getting your ceramics home, because most shops will organise for them to be packed securely and shipped.
Italian leather goods are feted all over the world for their high quality and chic designs – so if you were ever going to blow the budget on a gift for yourself, taking home a butter-soft handbag, belt, wallet, jacket or pair of shoes should be top of your list. Florence is the home of leather goods, and in fact the country’s most high-profile and prolific manufacturing area for leather is located between there and Pisa, at Santa Croce sull’Arno. You’ll find a dizzying array of shops, markets and ateliers selling their wares in both cities – and you can even commission a one-off piece made especially to your specifications.
But be warned, leather is one product that can differ wildly in quality from very poor to sublime – so, again, this is where the benefit of having a guide on one of our trips will work in your favour as they’ll be able to give you tips on the best places to purchase. One of the key tips is to make sure you’re buying products that don’t just say ‘made in Italy’, but that they are also made from Italian leather. It’s quite common nowadays for sub-standard imported leather to be used, so try to stick to the more artisan makers who are only too happy to show you around and tell you their story.
A Straw Hat
There really is no end to the talents of the locals from this area and the famous capello di paglia (straw hat) began life here back in the eighteenth century. A variety of wheat called Marzulo was cultivated to create the very high quality straw used to weave these hats – which were both serviceable (to keep off the Tuscan sun) and fashionable. They make a great gift to take back to someone, or a very necessary item of clothing for yourself that will last much longer than your summer trip.
Alabaster and Marble
The Tuscans have been mining the landscape for centuries to extract the marble and alabaster used in not only the construction of some of their most magnificent architecture and monuments, but also in the sculpture of countless priceless cultural and artistic treasures. After all, where would we be without Michelangelo’s David or Pietà?
While you probably won’t be taking home anything of the scale of those two pieces, there’s a huge market in smaller, more accessible products made from locally mined Carrara marble and its softer counterpart, alabaster, from the hills around the Etruscan town of Volterra. With everything from drink coasters and chess sets to larger busts and full body sculptures, you could easily be tempted by a very significant purchase. Again, you don’t have to worry if you decide on a larger item though, as the maker or shop will organise to have it packed appropriately and shipped for you.
Top Tip: If you’re really looking to indulge your cultural heart, you can purchase a piece of art using the craft of ‘pietre dure’, which is an extremely difficult and time consuming process of marble inlay mosaic. Often used in the decoration of churches or Renaissance furniture, there are still some select artisans that use the technique to make more accessible items. But expect to pay for the privilege of such craftsmanship.
Well, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the iconic traditional products from the region that make the perfect souvenirs, but there are other ways of keeping your holiday memories alive – or instilling envy in your friends back home. Sometimes you just want to pick up a few cheap mementoes of your trip, and there’s no judgement whatsoever if you fill every square inch of your baggage with a small mountain of ‘tourist tatt’ that you pick up along the way.
If you buy it in the spirit of fun and with no expectation that you’re taking home a genuine piece of Italian Renaissance art, there are endless opportunities to stock up on cheap, colourful (but probably not long-lasting) souvenirs of your holiday. Here are just some examples:
- Fridge magnets
- Mini sculptures and figurines
- Decorative spoons
- Bottle openers
- Mini wooden Pinocchios
- Snow domes
This is just a tiny snapshot of what you’ll see in markets, gift shops and street stalls of every town and city you visit. Can you help being tempted by a mini Leaning Tower of Pisa? Probably not. Could you pass up a tiny Duomo set inside a plastic snowdome? Never. Should you resist a miniature, muscular David to hang your car keys from? Well why even should you?
The point is that these cheap and cheerful souvenirs are actually a really fun way of prolonging the joy of your trip. With ridiculously low prices (which, by the way can vary quite a lot for the same items, so do shop around) you can afford to buy in bulk for everyone back in the office. Even if they only last a couple of weeks, it’s the thought that counts and you can congratulate yourself on spreading the pleasures of Italy around and perhaps encouraging a colleague, friend or family member to make their own holiday dreams come true.
Tell them to make sure they look us up when they get here…
We Are Walkabout Florence
At Walkabout Florence we’ve got a reputation for being one of the best independent tour operators around. We’re proud of our range of superb tours in Florence and the surrounding Tuscany region and we guarantee a day of fun and adventure as you discover the true heart and soul of Italy’s culture, history, art and cuisine. Our friendly, knowledgeable guides are passionate about ensuring guests have the time of their lives while making the most of their experience. From food and wine safaris, to Fiat 500 and Vespa tours, and cultural day tours, we’ll show you the best of Italy in the most enjoyable and fulfilling way possible.