Dievole's blog

15 of the best gifts from Tuscany

With the holiday season just around the corner, the time has come to start making those lists and checking them twice. No matter whom you’re buying for, you’re bound to find something that suits their tastes in Tuscany. Ranging from handcrafted Florentine treasures to zesty seasonings and snacks from all over the region, our fifteen Tuscan gift ideas put your standard stocking stuffers to shame.

1. Leather goods

Leather school at Santa Croce | Photo Marco Badiani

Leather school at Santa Croce | Photo Marco Badiani

The quality of Tuscan leather has been world-renowned for centuries. There’s no shortage of leather artisans in Florence and throughout Tuscany, spoiling you for choice. Butter-soft bags, gentlemanly gloves, classic jackets and belts all make memorable gifts that the lucky recipients can use for years to come. Florence’s most traditional leather makers also specialize in hand-tooled books and desk ornaments (like in the photo above taken at the Leather School of Santa Croce).

2. Panforte

Panforte | Photo Flickr user Min Liu

Panforte | Photo Flickr user Min Liu

A Sienese Christmas sweet tradition, this delicious sweet is filled with tasty fruits and nuts. Literally translated “strong bread,” panforte owes its name to its mildly spicy and punch-packing flavor.

3. Marbled Paper

Marbed Paper Binder | Photo Flickr user batwrangler

Marbed Paper Binder | Photo Flickr user batwrangler

With its swirling patterns and psychedelic color combinations, Florentine marbled paper makes both a pretty and practical present. It’s an artisanal tradition that can be traced all the way back to 17th-century Tuscany. Marbled paper makes a great gift for anyone in the family, particularly those who need some motivation to keep in touch—it makes a beautiful hint!

4. A Case of Chianti Classico from Dievole

Sometimes there’s simply nothing as fine as “red, red wine!” To be labeled Chianti Classico DOCG, a wine must not only be produced in the Chianti region, but also must meet strict production regulations. At Christmas wine is truly an appreciated gift! Wow your friends with your wine know-how by bringing a bottle of it to a holiday party, or wrap it up for someone special.

5. Cantucci (Biscotti)

Cantucci with Vin Santo | Photo Flickr user Paolo Piscolla

Cantucci with Vin Santo | Photo Flickr user Paolo Piscolla

Know someone with a sweet tooth? You can’t go wrong with cantucci, a traditional treat from Prato dating back to the Renaissance. These tough, almond-based cookies—Americanized variations of which are typically called biscotti—make perfect gift-pack staples, especially when paired with Dievole’s Vin Santo. In addition to dessert wines, they taste delicious with coffee (cookies for breakfast? Why not?)

6. Florentine Fragrances

fragrances

Many unique fragrances | Photo Flickr user Roving-Aye!

Someone you know looking for a new signature scent? Instead of shopping at chain beauty boutiques and department stores, look to one of Tuscany’s famous fragrances. In Florence, the world-famous Santa Maria Novella pharmacy and profumeria (near the church of the same name) carries a wide variety of scents, from orange blossom to magnolia to ‘Angels of Florence.’ Another option is the iconic Aquaflor brand, known for its historic shop on Borgo Santa Croce. Hailing from the Tuscan island of Elba, Acqua dell’Elba is available at their Florence flagship store and in many boutiques and perfume shops, and is sure to delight with its fresh scent and packaging.

7. Pietre Dure

pietre_dure

Marble artisan at work | Photo Alexandra Korey

One of the most expensive and difficult to make artistic processes in Italy is marble inlay, or pietre dure. The eye-catching colors of these marble mosaics are the result of the artisans’ careful use of the natural color variations in the stones which are cut into puzzle-like shapes to create a composition. Used in church decoration as well as for impressive pieces of furniture from the Renaissance until now, a few artisans in Florence still use the historic technique to make things you’d want in your home.

8. San Gimignano Saffron DOP

Saffron | Photo Flickr user glasseyes view

Saffron | Photo Flickr user glasseyes view

Known as “red gold,” saffron is so treasured in San Gimignano that in 1228, the local government used it to pay off their debts when they had no cash on hand. This scrumptious spice adds a savory kick to many traditional recipes from the area: pick it up for the creative cook on your list.

9. Handcrafted and Painted Tuscan Ceramics

A certain type of traveler—the interior design devotee—comes to Tuscany in droves. Often what they’re after are handcrafted, handpainted Tuscan ceramics, adding color to their kitchen collections, coffee tables and mantles. Friends who’ve just moved, gotten married or graduated could probably use help on the home décor front: patterned Tuscan vases, plates or saucers will add a marvelously Mediterranean touch to any space that needs spicing up. The town of Montelupo is probably the best known for maiolica, though you’ll find it just about everywhere. If you’re also interested in historic maiolica check out our article about where to learn about and see maiolica in Tuscany.

10. Mugello Sweet Chestnuts IGP

Fresh chestnuts | Photo Flickr user Otto Phokus

Fresh chestnuts | Photo Flickr user Otto Phokus

When it comes to taste and aroma, these chestnuts are off the charts! With slight hints of vanilla, IGP Mugello sweet chestnuts are tasty enough to make you start humming a certain Nat King Cole classic. They fall from trees in October and can be purchased hot-roasted from street vendors, whereas to bring some home as a gift you’ll want to look for chestnuts in their most portable forms, as jams or spreads, or as Marrons Glacés.

11. A Case of Olive Oil DOP from Dievole

Olive oil from Dievole

Olive oil from Dievole

With the olive harvest season upon us, now is a great time to pick up a case of this top-shelf DOP Chianti Classico extra-virgin olive oil from Dievole. Dievole produces a line of 6 olive oils, from Italian blends to a mono-cultivar of Leccino olives cultivated just behind our villa. The Dop Chianti Classico oils are the best expression of this territory and an important part of this area of Tuscany’s history – after all, what would Chianti be without those olive-grove-dotted landscapes? This perfect olive oil exalts the flavour of any dish and should be added “raw” to top off anything from a salad to a warm bowl of soup.

12. Tuscan Truffles

Truffles | Photo Flickr user Wei-Duan Woo

Truffles | Photo Flickr user Wei-Duan Woo

Tell someone you love them with a tuber! The world-renowned tartufo grows only under certain trees and is often part of haute recipes prepared by the globe’s top gourmands. ‘Humble home cooks’ can try truffle shaved over scrambled eggs, a tasty Tuscan breakfast idea. You can also buy truffle butter, which keeps without refrigeration until it’s open, and is a good economic option that you can add to toast or spaghetti.

13. Zesty Seasonings

Tis the season for… seasonings! A gift that can last all year and that is much appreciated is Tuscan mixes of seasonings for pastas, sauces and more. You can get pesto mixes as well as amazing dried herbs in beautiful packaging. This light and easy to ship item is a stocking stuffer that our family asks for every winter.

14. Creativity in Translation

The FLR - page spread from Issue 1

The FLR – page spread from Issue 1

Italy lovers on your list will love to know what’s new in the world of Italian literature. While not strictly Tuscan (at all), Elena Ferrante’s dreamy trilogy makes for a good boxed set and almost begs the recipient to slow down and enjoy herself in front of the fire during the colder months. As a stocking stuffer, consider a very creative new entry in the publishing world: TheFLR The Florentine Literary Review is an illustrated collection of short stories by emerging Italian writers, published in Italian and in brilliant English translation.

15. Tempting Travel

Perhaps the best gift of all is time. A beautiful card with the most beautiful of messages could be placed under the tree: a promise of a trip to Tuscany, together. An opportunity to slow down and enjoy life, sipping wine and enjoying the view. We at Dievole would be happy to help you plan a surprise week or long weekend that you can book now in time for next Summer, giving you – and them – something to look forward to for months to come!