If you have ever taken a trip where you enjoyed every single minute but then gone home without a souvenir, raise your hand. The point is what you’ve chosen. There are essentially two categories of travel mementos. First, there are junk items like dolls and dishtowels, potholders and castanets, fridge magnets and postcard holders. And then there are souvenirs of the heart: the kind you look at, wear and enjoy. Or that will be cherished by the people you give them to. In short, the kind everyone likes. They’re never left on top of some cabinet to collect dust or relegated to the attic. The Murano chandelier and the kimono from Tokyo are pieces of culture, of life.

Tiber and St Peter Basilica in Vatican, Rome. CHRISTOBOLO VIA GETTY IMAGES
Tiber and St Peter Basilica in Vatican, Rome. CHRISTOBOLO VIA GETTY IMAGES

We wandered around Rome to find addresses where we could buy ourselves something that will seem even more wonderful once we get home. This is our choice of small Italian handicrafts at affordable prices, items that will astonish you and then your friends.

Antica Manifattura Cappelli
Antica Manifattura Cappelli. LA DOLCE VITA


Patrizia Fabri, with her Antica Manifattura Cappelli, now has two stores in the center of Rome: the historic one, and the one that opened this past October and serves more as a showcase. All the hats are produced in the back of the first store, a workshop founded by a Tuscan family in 1936. “After the crisis of 1929, the original owners left Tuscany and came to Rome in search of fortune. They started out making straw hats, and after nearly a century nothing has changed in the way they’re made.” Patrizia first set foot in the store when she was just 17. “I asked for a hat for me but then altered it a little. They liked it so much that they asked me to sell them. That’s how I ended up back at the Manifattura and started to work with them.” Finally, in 2003 Patrizia took over the business. And hers are the most beautiful handmade hats in the entire city.

Mondelliani’s shop.
Mondelliani’s shop. LA DOLCE VITA


For over 40 years Mondelliani has sold sought-after eyeglasses. The Mondello
family started selecting other designers, but when it had a hard time finding lines produced entirely in Italy, it decided to make its own in the Veneto region: not just pretty, but also fun and with a touch of humor. For a spirited gift.

Petrocchi. LA DOLCE VITA


Petrocchi footwear has a great history, as it is linked to movie stars and the Dolce Vita, from Petrocchi.

Silvana Mangano to Sergio Leone, who brought Robert De Niro into the store one day. “All the two-tone shoes in Once Upon a Time in America are ours!” The workshop near Via Sistina produces a maximum of 250 pairs of shoes a year. “The first step involves getting a mold of the customer’s feet. After that, we can make as many shoes as they want and they don’t even have to come back to the store,” the owners comment. They simply need to remember that it takes a few weeks before they can wear what they’ve ordered.



Schostal was founded in 1870 and was the official purveyor to the Italian kings. Today the company still offers a range of high-quality classic garments, from crewneck sweaters to striped shirts, as well as undergarments and socks, all made with natural fibers. Everything is produced in Italy and much of it right in Rome. Their handkerchiefs are famous, including linen ones, and are hemmed by hand or with a sewing machine. And all of them can be customized with the client’s initials.