How does an object become a souvenir? A keepsake or a token with a symbolic meaning of an experience that holds special significance in our lives. We travel and want to take something back home. Moments we experience inspire memories we want to save. At first glance some souvenirs may seem trivial and insignificant to anyone but the holder like a stone I found on the beach in Caorle on the Adriatic or a paper chef’s hat from my cooking school days in Emilia Romagna. Some souvenirs are part of the mass-produced souvenir market found in tourist shops and open air markets throughout Italy. Like a magnet with a cartoon image of the Ponte Vecchio or a miniature statue of David. Considered by some as kitschy they too create an emotional connection that cannot be denied.
Travel sites offer advice on the best souvenirs to bring home from Italy. Murano glass and masks from Venice, leather from Florence, soccer shirts and Forza AC Milan banners from street vendors in Milano. Some of my best souvenirs were collected this way.
I’ve also brought home silk ties from Como, linens from Montefalco and elixirs and scents from ancient farmacia. My advice is to buy what you like. Avoid impulse buying as you will want to bring a piece of Italy home from every town, village and borgo you visit.
Traveling in Italy is as much about how you feel as it is about what you see. So bring home souvenirs that create an emotional connection that is meaningful to you and if that happens to be a silk screened T shirt with a picture of you holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa so be it. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.