Here are 21 Italian foods and drinks to bring home with you after a holiday in Italy.
Tasty, authentic, and beautifully packaged, food gifts from Italy are always appreciated.
You can treat family, friends, and colleagues to these culinary delights on your return. Or you can add them to your personal stash. This way you can enjoy them when you reminisce over your Italian experiences. Heaven knows, there is nothing like chewing on a little morsel of delicious Italian food or taking a sip of proper Italian coffee to bring back all those wonderful memories of time well-spent in Italy.
So, in this blog post today I want to share with you the best Italian foods and drinks to bring home with you. (Obviously, only if customs allow it!)
Each one of these Italian foods and drinks comes in small sizes, it’s mostly very easy to carry in your luggage, and can be found nicely packaged. They can be bought in delis and supermarkets all over the country. Some of them like speciality coffee roasts, olive oil, and wine, for example, can be purchased directly from small local producers. Depending on the quantity you buy, they can even ship a crate or two to your address back home so that you don’t have to lug bottles or packages around.
Even better! Many of these Italian foods and drinks can be easily bought from abroad. This way, you won’t have to wait until your next trip to Italy to buy delicious Italian food gifts or to replenish your stash of favourite Italian treats.
Have a look!
21 Italian Foods and Drinks to Bring Home from Italy with You for Gifts and Treats
1. Balsamic Vinegar – Aceto Balsamico
Balsamic vinegar doesn’t need an introduction. Originating in Italy, this dark, flavoursome, and super-concentrated condiment nowadays is a staple in kitchens all over the world.
During your Italian holiday, you can buy some truly exquisite types of balsamic vinegar. Italian delis sell an amazing selection in bottles of different sizes containing prized liquids some of which have aged over dozens of years. You can also buy inexpensive balsamic vinegar glazes that add oomph to even the simplest of dishes.
The best thing though is to visit a factory in Modena to see how balsamic vinegar is made following centuries-old traditions and techniques. Alternatively, click here to easily buy Italian balsamic vinegar.
2. Biscuits – Biscotti
Italy has a wide selection of traditional biscuits that have achieved cult status all around the world. Amaretti di Saronno from Lombardy, baicoli from Venice, cantuccini from Tuscany, baci di dama from Piedmont, essi buranelli from the island of Burano in the Venetian Lagoon…
Everywhere you go in Italy, you are bound to discover a traditional local biscuit with a story to tell. Many local bakers make them with love and care in small workshops and patisseries. Often, the artisan varieties are individually wrapped in colourful wrappers and then beautifully packaged in a tin or a nice bag. They make for wonderful gifts if you bear to be parted from them.
Click here to easily buy traditional Italian biscuits.
Click here for more details about Italy’s traditional biscuits and sweets:
- Pasticceria Soraru’ – The Oldest Patisserie in Vicenza, Italy – Traditions and Secrets of Italian Desserts
3. Breakfast Biscuits – Biscotti Frollini
When you visit Italy, you will come to discover (perhaps with some surprise!) that the traditional Italian breakfast is small and sweet. Plus, biscuits are one of the most popular Italian breakfast foods! According to a poll on the breakfast habits of the Italians conducted in 2019 by YouGov Italia, 57% of all Italians eat biscotti first thing in the morning.
For the cultural experience, you may decide to join them, too! In this case, you may quickly develop a longstanding appreciation for Italian breakfast biscuits. Sold in large bags in all Italian supermarkets and delis, they are shortcrust-based biscuits known as frollini and are made of flour, butter, sugar, and eggs.
Pan di Stelle is one of the most popular varieties of Italian breakfast biscuits. Nascondini, Cuor di Mela, Abbraci, and Ritornelli are very popular, too. Click here to easily buy Italian breakfast biscuits.
Click here for more details about breakfast in Italy:
- 10 Rules of Breakfast in Italy or How Do Italians Eat Breakfast
- 14 Typical Italian Breakfast Foods and Drinks or What Do Italians Eat for Breakfast
4. Chocolate – Cioccolato
All over Italy, there are also many small chocolate makers producing delicious varieties of artisan chocolate using only the best local ingredients. Some typical Italian chocolates you need to try are cremino and gianduiotti.
During your visit to Italy, keep an eye out for any chocolate markets that may be held locally. They are great places to meet many local chocolatiers and to buy chocolates moulded in a wide selection of fun and whimsical shapes.
Alternatively, click here to easily buy Italian chocolate.
Click here for more details about Italy’s chocolate markets:
- CioccolandoVi – A Chocolate Festival in Vicenza, Italy
- Point 11 – Italian Markets: 11 Types of Markets You Can Find in Italy
- Padua in the Run-Up to Christmas – Festive Lights, Chocolate, and Egyptian Artefacts
5. Chocolate and Hazelnut Spread – Crema Spalmabile alla Nocciola e Cioccolato
Nutella is easily the most famous Italian brand of chocolate and hazelnut spread. Yet, when you are in Italy, soon you will come across the huge local array of wonderful crema spalmabile alla nicciola e cioccolato made by many small and large Italian producers.
Sold in Italian supermarkets and delis, there are many different brands of chocolate and hazelnut spreads to please and elevate the palate of even the most ardent chocoholics. I am especially fond of the dark chocolate variety!
Definitely give them a try and pack a few away to take home with you. Or click here to easily buy Italian chocolate and hazelnut spreads.
6. Coffee – Caffè
Italian coffee is famous all over the world. Western coffee culture as it is nowadays was basically invented in Italy. To this day, the Italian espresso is at the base of most coffee drinks served in Europe and beyond.
Having proper Italian coffee is one of the most authentic experiences you can indulge in when in Italy. It’s only natural then to want to take some Italian coffee home with you at the end of your Italian holiday.
There are many famous Italian coffee brands: Lavazza, Illy, and Segafredo to mention but a few. As well as many local Italian companies roasting coffee in small batches and creating artisan blends. You just have to take your pick! Also, don’t forget the Moka, if you want to drink coffee every morning just like the Italians do.
Alternatively, click here to easily buy Italian coffee.
Click here for more details about Italy’s coffee traditions:
- 21 Types of Italian Coffees and How to Order Coffee in Italy Like a Local
- Coffee in Italy or 101 Facts about Italian Coffee Culture
- 19 Rules of Italian Coffee Culture or How to Drink Coffee Like an Italian
7. Dry Porcini Mushrooms – Funghi Porcini Essicati
Porcini are the star ingredient of many Italian dishes. Risotto ai funghi porcini and tagliatelle ai funghi porcini, for example, are simply delicious.
To take a taste of the Italian food heaven home, you can get a pack or two of dried porcini with you. They are sold in Italian supermarkets and delis.
If you are visiting Italy’s mountainous towns like Asiago on the Asiago Plateau in Veneto or Levico Terme in Trentino, you will see shops on the high street there selling dry porcini in a huge variety of packaging.
Otherwise, click here to easily buy dry porcini mushrooms.
8. Herbs and Seasonings – Erbe Aromatiche e Condimenti
When you visit the markets, delis, and supermarkets of Italy, you will soon notice the large variety of herbs and seasonings on their stalls and shelves.
From traditional for Italy herbs like basil and sage to blends for authentic Italian dishes like Arrabiata and Amatriciana, herbs and seasonings will catch your eye all over Italy with their colours and beautiful packaging in thin long bags and small glass jars.
I am particularly fond of the seasoning blends by Collitali and Ariosto. Now that I live in England and after I ran out of my Italy-bought stash, I started buying inspired by Italy seasoning blends like this one and this one.
9. Hot Chocolate – Cioccolata Calda
There is nothing like Italian hot chocolate!
You may think that you have had hot chocolate before. Perhaps one of those humungous concoctions that are served topped with sprayed on whipped cream and handfuls of marshmallows?!
Trust me though! You haven’t had hot chocolate until you’ve had your first hot chocolate in Italy! This is the real thing! Thick, indulgent, slightly bitter, and served in small quantities. It’s not surprising then that you will want to buy packs of the stuff to bring home with you.
Alternatively, click here to easily buy Italian hot chocolate.
10. Liquors and Digestifs – Liquori e Digestivi
Italy has some of the best liquors and digestifs. Its limoncello is perhaps the most famous one of them all. Yet during your visit to Italy, you are bound to come across (and enjoy!) many more traditional local liquors and digestifs.
Some of the most famous ones are Amaretto di Saronno, Campari, Sambuca, and Aperol. There are many more that are produced in distilleries all over the country and infused with orange, mint, liquorice, local herbs, and even hazelnuts and roses.
If you are travelling by plane, then you may prefer to buy any Italian liquors and digestifs that you want from the duty-free shops at the airport. Alternatively, you can visit a producer and see if they can ship your purchases back home for you.
Click here to easily buy Italian liquors and digestifs.
11. Nougat – Mandorlato
Nougat is a centuries-old Italian delicacy. It is enjoyed especially during the Christmas season. Traditionally, it’s made of egg whites, sugar, honey, and almonds. It can be shaped in different ways – squares, circles, nuggets, bars, and even stars.
Known as torrone or mandorlato in Italian, there are two particularly prized types of nougat in Italy. One – il mandorlato veneto – comes from the small town of Cologna Veneta. The other is made in the Lombardian city of Cremona where a large festival dedicated to all things nougat is held every year in the autumn.
In the run-up to Christmas, you will see nougat sold in all Italian supermarkets. Outside of the Christmas season try your luck in the local delis.
Alternatively, click here to easily buy Italian nougat.
Click here for more details about Italy’s traditional nougat:
12. Olive Oil – Olio d’Oliva
Italy has long-standing traditions in terms of producing and using olive oil. Hundreds of small Italian farms and producers make some of the most outstanding olive oils in the world.
Once you have had food prepared with proper Italian olive oil, you will find it difficult to go back to the oil blends sold cheaply in shops around the world. So, use your time in Italy to have an olive oil tasting, to visit an olive oil museum, and even to see for yourself an olive oil farm or an olive oil press.
Treat yourself to a few bottles of Italian olive oil from a local deli or producer. Depending on the quantity you buy, they may be able to ship it directly to your home address. Alternatively, click here to easily buy Italian olive oil.
Pasta is to Italy what air is to the rest of us. And that’s not an exaggeration! Over the centuries, Italy has managed to elevate the simple meeting of flour and eggs into the most refined culinary marriage.
Here you will find pasta in any and all possible shapes. Each one was developed to be served with a particular sauce and each one is tastier than any other pasta that you have ever tasted before.
You will find a huge variety of pasta in all Italian supermarkets, delis, and even souvenir shops and duty-free shops. You may choose to pick a pack with pasta shaped like mini Coliseums and mini Towers of Pisa. Or you may pick a pack with a traditional pasta shape like fusilli or penne or even bigoli.
Pasta is the easiest food gift to bring home from Italy with you. And the one that will give you great satisfaction to cook properly al dente in your kitchen to relive your Italian adventures.
When your pasta stash runs out, click here to easily buy Italian pasta.
14. Flavoured Pastilles – Pastiglie Leone
Pastiglie Leone are one of Italy’s most iconic products. They are tiny pastilles that come in a myriad of different flavours. Each is packaged in a small box with exquisite Italian design.
They make for a wonderful little gift, a tiny memento of Italy with all its colours, flavours, and appreciation of beauty.
You will see Pastiglie Leone sold over Italy. In patisseries and delis, often there is a small stand by the till with the classic flavours and the latest limited editions.
Better stock on Pastiglie Leone during your Italian trip as they can be difficult or costly to buy abroad. Still, click here to see what’s available online.
Polenta is one of Italy’s main food staples. With a history that goes back to at least Roman times, polenta-based dishes abound in Italy and grilled polenta slices are traditionally served as an accompaniment to meat, cheese, and fish. Especially in the north of the country.
While you may have thought of polenta as bland and non-remarkable food, allow Italy and its cuisine to change your taste buds. Be brave and order polenta dishes (and desserts!) during your Italian trip. Then get some fancy polenta to take home with you.
Particularly prized is the polenta made of white corn. You can also find polenta mixed with dried porcini mushrooms, flavoured with truffles or made of special varieties of corn.
Alternatively, click here to easily buy Italian polenta.
Click here for more details about Italy’s polenta:
16. Spreadable Sausage – Nduja
Italian sausages and salami are famous all over the world. There is one particular type of Italian sausage though that is so good you have to have it in your life.
Traditionally made in Calabria in the south of Italy, its name is Nduja. It is bright red and so very spicy that your palate sings and zings with every bite of Nduja. The most interesting thing about Nduja though is that it’s so soft that it’s spreadable. You literally scoop a little bit and then spread it on a piece of bread or add it to pasta sauces or any dish that you want to spice up.
While stuffing a soft spreadable sausage in your luggage is not something I would suggest, the best bit about Nduja is that it is also sold in small jars. This makes it easy to carry around provided you want to take a delicious piece of Italy back home with you.
Alternatively, make it easy for yourself and click here to buy Italian Nduja from abroad. The photo on the left shows the exact brand of Nduja I love indulging in since returning to England after six wonderful years of living in Italy.
If spicy sausages are not your thing, then try ragu’ di cinghiale. This is a very tasty, very flavoursome sauce made with wild boar meat. It’s delicious with pasta or polenta. Enjoy!
17. Sweet Almond and Pistachio Spreads – Crema Spalmabile di Mandorla e Crema Spalmabile di Pistacchio
Italy is not all about chocolate and hazelnut spreads! Here you can find and indulge in two other sweet, nut-based spreads that are wonderful on a piece of toast or incorporated in various sweets, cakes, and creams.
One is made of ground almonds, sugar, and oil. The other – from ground pistachios, sugar, and oil. Some brands add white chocolate to the mix to make these creme spalmabili even more rich and luxurious.
You can easily find almond and pistachio spreads all over Italy. They are sold in small glass jars and are produced by different brands – some local and some owned by large Italian companies. If you can’t wait until your next trip to Italy to try them, then click here and here to easily buy Italian almond and pistachio spreads.
Taralli are like round breadsticks! Made of flour, oil, and white wine(!), they hail from Puglia in the south of Italy. Taralli are very satisfying to snack on. You can either crunch them with your teeth or let them slowly disintegrate on your tongue.
They are perfect to serve to your guests back home with a glass of wine or another drink. Or you can simply have them in your bag to snack on the go.
Taralli come in different flavours. I am particularly fond of taralli with fennel seeds! There are also taralli spiced with chilli, enriched with olives, flavoured with red onion, and even seasoned with turmeric.
Click here to easily buy Italian taralli.
19. Traditional Italian Cakes and Fruit Loaves – Torte, Panettone e Pandoro
Many places in Italy have a traditional cake or a fruit loaf that is intrinsically connected to the local history and customs. Some of them like panettone (originally from Milan) and pandoro (originally from Verona) nowadays are known and enjoyed all over the world.
Others, like the Sant’Antonio cake and the Pazientina cake from Padua or the Sbrisolona cake from Mantua, don’t yet have worldwide recognition. Instead, visitors of these beautiful cities in Northern Italy are delighted to discover them and the story behind them in situ.
When you travel around Italy, make sure that you get to know the local cakes and fruit loaves of every city, town or place that you visit. Often, they are sold beautifully wrapped and thus make wonderful and original gifts for family, friends and colleagues back home.
Alternatively, click here to easily buy traditional Italian cakes and fruit loaves.
Click here for more details about Italy’s traditional local cakes and fruit loaves:
- Sant’Antonio’s Cakes in Padua, Italy – The Story of the Sweets of the Saint
- Panettone – Traditions and Secrets of the King of the Italian Christmas Table
20. Truffles – Tartufi
Italy is famous for its truffles – those fragrant tubers that in the past were hunted with specially trained hogs and nowadays are found with the help of dogs. Apparently, the change of helper was needed as the hogs would, well, hog the truffles they found, eating the good stuff themselves. Well, I don’t blame them!
Adding fresh truffle shavings to a dish is a culinary pleasure like no other. During your Italian trip give yourself permission to indulge in a truffle-elevated meal. It doesn’t really have to cost the earth! Truffle festivals are held in many places all over Italy serving excellent local truffle dishes at very affordable prices. You can also buy fresh tubers at markets or take part in truffle hunts yourself.
Even if you are in Italy outside of truffle hunting season, you can still have your truffle fill! You will find truffles sold in many different disguises and ways – from dried truffle slices to truffle-based sauces and truffles preserved in olive oil.
Otherwise, click here to easily buy Italian truffle products.
Click here for more details about Italy’s truffles and truffle festivals:
21. Wine – Vino
Italy is the land of wine! No two ways about it.
The best way to buy wine in Italy is to tour one or several wineries. This way, you can taste different wines, see how they are made, and buy directly from small producers. Depending on the number of bottles you buy, they may be able to ship it all for you directly to your address back home.
Otherwise, click here to easily buy Italian wine.
Italian food and drinks are famous all over the world for their authentic character and delicious taste. Eating and drinking well is a big part of every trip to Italy. And easily, the most anticipated portion of it!
It’s not surprising then that millions of visitors to Italy want to take home with them a piece of Italy’s delicious cuisine. Italian food gifts help you to share the flavours and tastes of Italy with family, colleagues, and friends. Or you can keep them for yourself as there is nothing like reminiscing over your Italian adventures over a plate or a glass of Italian delicacies.
So, in this blog post today I shared with you 21 perfect Italian food and drink gifts to buy during your trip to Italy. I included some curious tidbits about each one of them and a short explanation as to what makes them a must-taste and a must-buy. I also added links giving you the option to purchase these delicious Italian food gifts even if you are not in Italy at the moment.
This way, you can always keep your Italian food stash full and be the popular colleague and friend with the best Italian food gifts.
Enjoy shopping Italy’s delicious food!
More Helpful Info for You about Food and Coffee in Italy
Food in Italy: Cheap Food in Italy, Italian Cheeses, Traditions of Panettone, What is Polenta, Caperberries, Mandorlato Veneto, Venetian Fritella, Sant’Antonio Cakes, Making Prosciutto, Arrosticini, Tortellini, Cremino
Breakfast in Italy: Typical Italian Breakfast Foods and Drinks, Rules of Breakfast in Italy
Food Festivals in Italy: Chestnut Festivals, Truffle Festival, Cherry Festivals, Pea Festival, Prosciutto Festival, Chocolate Festival
Coffee in Italy: Types of Italian Coffees, Italian Coffee Culture, Cold Coffee Drinks, 101 Facts About Coffee
Markets in Italy: Rialto Fish Market, Padua Market, Types of Italian Markets