Wine tasting in the historical Tuscan town of Montepulciano…
Wine tasting in the historical Tuscan town of Montepulciano…
Travel poster to Tuscany’s most famous wine town
Compared to other Italian hot spots, the Amalfi Coast doesn’t offer a huge selection of shopping in terms of diversity beyond the usual t-shirt and limoncello stores but there are some notable exceptions that will still work out your credit card. If you are looking for designer boutiques that is best found on Capri, and instead look for more unique pieces on the mainland coast. Positano has boutique finds, while Ravello has very elegant selections of ceramics, and Amalfi is great for picking up food items and smaller gifts. So be prepared to fill your suitcase as you will not go back empty handed.
A little etiquette first. In Italy, especially in smaller shops, it is customary to greet the shop owner with a hello, or “Buongiorno!” Many times shops are considered extensions of people’s home and should be thought of the same way upon entering. Politeness does go a long way and even if you don’t speak Italian, do smile and say hello to people.
A bird nest overlooking the blue sea, Ravello posses elegance and good breeding. While there are ceramics all over the Amalfi Coast, I found the more unique designs with real palatial feel along these quiet streets in the sky.
Ceramiche d’Arte Carmela (Via del Rufolo, 16) – Off the main piazza, on the way to the Villa Cimbrone, is my favourite shop for ceramics. Exciting designs, classic styles plus that little bit more. They will ship so shop knowing they will pack it up and send it to you with minimal hassles. I found a rich red platter with yellow acanthus leaves which remains one of my most stunning purchases.
Wine Amalfi Coast (Via Roma, 38) – On the other side of the piazza, under the arch, is a small but very well stocked wine shop specializing in the best of local wines and spirits. You want that special, not your run of the mill limoncello, or a bold Taurasi wine, this is a great place to buy your wines.
The bustling and charming seaside town of Amalfi is a great place to pick up those decorative bottles of limoncello. A couple smaller ceramic shops along the main road offer inexpensive yet very pretty gift options, while little food shops sell traditional Italian food items.
Pasticerria Pansa (Via Duca Mansone I, 40) This is one of those baby grand old world European cafes. Glass cabinets displaying mouthwatering pastries and candies, mirrored walls and polished wood, make it a must. And after you have had your coffee, make sure you pick up some of the most beautiful marzipan and biscotti.
Limoncello Il Profumo shop (Piazza del Duomo) – Right next to Pasticerria Pansa is a small picturesque boutique selling nothing but limoncello in a wide selection of beautiful bottles. From the traditional painted local scene to some really artful ones, they are all delightful.
Energetic and more tourist traveled Positano has a bit more variety and a can range from art galleries to flip flop shops. Much of the selection feels a bit dated and expected, yet the places that are nice, are very particular and offer exceptional finds.
Emporio Le Sirenuse (Via Cristoforo Colombo, 103) – Probably the best stylish boutique along the coast with lovely resort clothing pieces along with unique home items. Fanciful pillowcases like the ones used at the hotel and decorative home designers like Carlo Moretti glass pieces displayed along light scarves and and pretty bags.
Ceramica Assunta (Via C. Colombo, 97 & 137) You will see many ceramic shops along the Amalfi Coast. Some are better than others and it depends what you are looking for. I like this one for its extensive selection of good craftsmanship. Beautiful plates and colourfully designed pasta bowls.
Cafiero Luigi, Vendita Oggetti Usati, (Via C. Colombo 171) Love this tiny shop at the top of the road. Displaying its whimsical and eclectic selection of antique pieces along the road and decorating the ledge overlooking the sea, there is something very special about this place. From the iron worked pieces to the rare decorative glass vase this place is from times past.
Don Catello sandals (Via Franco Franchi, 5) Antonio the shop keeper is one of the friendliest people you will meet and a delight to spend time with. He also knows shoes, and the ones in his shop are extremely stylish. Comfortable and bejeweled handmade sandals are one of a kind and you will leave feeling like Cinderella on the way to the ball.
Don’t leave the Amalfi Coast without a beautiful bottle of limoncello, a pair of sandals, and a piece of decorative ceramic work. They are things that will transport you back to Italy when you are home.
With the Tuscan hills alive with vino it is no surprise that the Florentine prefers hitting a wine bar over a cocktail bar. To blend in and do as the locals do, spend aperitivo at a wine bar getting to know Tuscany’s finest…
Procacci (Via de Tornabuoni) One of the most elegant wine bars in Florence could only be located on Florence’s most fashionable street, the Via de Tornabuoni. Part wine bar and part gastronomy boutique, this cozy establishment is a refined bygone shop with glass cabinets and dark polished wood trim that evokes a unique feeling just by being there. And if that were not enough, Procacci is home to the best truffle paninni in the land which is best savored with one of their glasses a wine, perhaps a rose prosecco or Super Tuscan. A real treat.
Le Volpe e l’Uva (Piazza dei Rossi) Crossing the Ponte Vecchio to the the more laid back area of Olrarno, is a small enoteca on a small piazza on the way to the Pitti Palace. What makes this place a find is not only the diverse wine list with some exceptional wines by the glass, but that it offers not your run of the mill choices allowing for the opportunity to sample something you wouldn’t normally try. Whether you pull up a chair at one of the tables on the piazza or spend aperitivo hour with the locals at the bar, this place is a true Florentine hangout.
Il Santino (Via di Santo Spirito, 60) Amongst the trendier hangouts near Santo Spirito is a favourite of the young professional set. This eatery while still quite traditional has a bit more of a sophisticated vibe to it while remaining accessible and relaxed. Quite popular it does get busy after work and offers some nice menu options paired with wine in mind.
On my daily walks through the lobby at the Bel Ami in Paris I was met with a cordial and provocative room ambiance throughout that was so delightful that it gave the hotel that much more of a sense -and scent- of place. It was sophisticated both in the presentation and in its smell. Now I wish I had bought a candle or something like that to bring home a bit of the experience and to take me back to Paris. As every time I would smell that scent it would remind me instantly of Paris and the narrow streets of Saint Germain. In the same way that jasmine brings back thoughts of the first time I was in Capri, in the taxi going up the mountain towards the Piazzetta.. warm breeze, watered down sun, and every turn just the smell of the sweetest flowers…
There is really nothing better than to bring something back from a trip that will continue to evoke wonderful memories of where you have been. And something fragrant so that when you smelled it would be like being back on holiday is the best souvenir to bring home from your journeys. So much more stylish than a t-shirt! Here are a few to look out for next time you are travelling…
Eau d’Italie is Le Sirenuse’s personal scent. Created exclusively for the hotel it’s fresh, Mediterranean and citrus scent has been copied by many but never duplicated. With a whole range of perfume, bath and home products there is plenty of choice. They have expanded the perfume line to include more scents, all evoking the air or Positano and the Amalfi Coast. The Bath Salts are so luxurious!
Diptyque Fortunately or unfortunately you can find this iconic brand everywhere these days but nothing replicates the heady experience of going to the original shop on the Left Bank in Paris. They have now captured the essence of that shop in a fragrance aptly named 34 for the number of their address on Boulevard Saint Germain. Offered in a range of products, the hanging wax wardrobe oval will instantly make your clothes Paris chic!
Castello di Ama If you want to bottle a vineyard into a scent then perhaps this Tuscan vineyard’s own range of home scents and candles would do quite nicely. The wine is exceptionally good so you should definitely pick up a couple of bottles of the vino to go with the candle. After all, for the full effect when you get home, it would be great to have the wine to drink while the smell of the Tuscan mountains burns bright from the candle.
Profumo Farmacia Santa Maria Novella This Florence shop and museum is considered the original perfumer and should not be missed on any trip to Florence. Their original perfume Santa Maria Novella was created for Catherine de Medici when she became Queen of France and is one of the most classic perfumes anyone can own. But a unique home fragrance item is their terracotta pomegranate that is laced with their Melograno (pomegranate) frangrance that is a fresh scent that captures Renaissance Florence perfectly.
Carthusia Besides all their wonderful fragrances that capture sea breezes and the lemon groves of Capri, the way they model their home scents brings a bit of whimsy to the presentation. ‘Sea Urchin’ scent diffusers and scented sea shells from the sea shore will keep Capri and the Bay of Naples at home long after the essence fades.