Last year I posted a list of my favorite Italy gifts (Italy Gift List 2013) in honor of the Christmas season. This year, I’m really excited to share with you an updated version of that list, broken down by category, with some of my favorite “Italy stuff”, both old and new.
For the Italian Coffee Lover
I’m always recommending this little contraption because it’s something that I geniunely use and rely on everyday. I love it so much that I even wrote a post about it, explaining the various parts of a Moka Pot and how to use one to make good Italian coffee (see How to Make the Perfect Cup of Italian Coffee). Why do I and practically every Italian in Italy love this type of coffee pot? Three reasons: it’s much more affordable than an espresso machine, it doens’t take up that much space in the kitchen, and it makes a damn good espresso!
One good part about living in Italy? I’m not alone in the coffee addict world. I know this because Pocket Coffee exists and can be purchased at any supermarket and bar in Italy. Pocket Coffee is one of those things you either love or hate, and if you love coffee and chocolate you’ll definitely be in the “love” category. It’s essentially a dark chocolate capsule filled with espresso – perfect for those emergency caffeine cravings and chocolate indulgings.
Ok you’re probably thinking, “Wow Sarah, you’re really obsessed with this moka pot thingamajig”, but really, I’m telling you, it’s my favorite invention in the whole wide world! Not just because it makes me good coffee, but because it’s an iconic symbol of Italian coffee culture: Almost every Italian I know has a Moka Pot in their house. So when I first saw these beautiful moka pot prints on Etsy I simply knew I had to have one! They’re available in all different colors and styles for around $22+. Can’t wait to frame this one below and put it in my kitchen as a nice wake up reminde – GUURGLE!
For the Italy Bookworm
The Wedding Officer
Culinary delights, romance and scenes from Southern Italy all rolled into one book – I really can’t think of anything better to read, can you?
Mary Tolaro Noyes
A series of short stories based on personal encounters that the author has had with various people in Italy, Gathering Chestnuts is the type of book that gives you a whole new perspective on Italians. I know Mary personally (she’s not paying my to recommend her book, I’m doing it because I want to) and for me, her stories are not only fascinating, but emotionally moving. It’s a short book and something you can read in pieces over a long span of time.
What I really enjoyed about this novel was it’s modern day setting. While I love the old classics set in Italy such as A Room With a View or A Farewell to Arms, Beautiful Ruins is a refreshing story with a mysterious plot. Two stories converge throughout the novel: part of the novel takes place in modern day Hollywood while the other half is set in the Ligurian coast during the 1960’s.
For the Italian Language Lover
A nice little book that combines language, culture and Hales’ personal experience with learning the Italian. For me, I learned Italian not for practical reaosns, but because I was so fascinated with the culture. This is the same sense that I get from this book. Language and culture go hand and hand, and falling in love with one usually means falling in love with the other.
Da Capo was the textbook that I used for all of my Italian grammar courses in college. I still have this textbook sitting on myself and use as an Italian language reference. It’s not exactly a thrilling read, but it’s top quality in terms of grammar exercises and reading excerpts (my roommate who studied Italian in England also used this textbook during her university courses and so I think even on an international level, it’s one of the best Italian grammar textbooks!)
I can’t speak about this program from personal experience, but I can say that I have heard a lot about it from other fellow Italy bloggers. After all the hype I did give Rocket Languages a test run and in terms of vocabulary, I found this method quite good. There are loads of online lessons based on listening exercises (a skill quite difficult for language learners to master and that is usually lacking from standard text books). Each lesson also includes a mini test at the end so you can test your progress as you go along. It’s also a pretty cost effective language program because you get loads of lessons for your money (beginner level is priced at $99 for 66 lessons and 132 hours of practice time available). This would be a great gift for someone who is just starting out or doesn’t have a lot of time to devote to traditional Italian lessons.
For the Italian Chef
Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well
Among the many Italian cookbooks sitting on my shelf, I have to admit I revere this one the most. Why? Because almost every Italian recipe that we have today can be traced back to this book. Pellegrino Artusi, an Italian businessman and writer from the 1800’s, loved cooking and science so much that he set out a mission to test and record the most typical recipes from reach region of Italy. In fact, his book was the first to record recipes of this kind and the recipes that many Italians use today are similar if not exactly the same to Pellegrino’s findings.
Although you might not be able to find some of the ingredients outside of Italy, the recipes are still valid, if not at least interesting for any Italian foodie to read.
Rustico: Regional Italian Country Cooking
I bought this cookbook on a whim several years ago via Amazon. I was curious to know more about Italian regional cooking because I’ve always been so fascinated at how versatile Italian dishes can be. I love the recipes in this book for two reasons: 1. The dishes are surprising and unique from most recipes I have seen in Italian cookbooks and 2. Negrin makes all the recipes accesible for those in the U.S., substituting ingredients that you can find at home. She even provides an index at the end that lists various Italian specialty stores in the U.S.. The only downfall is that it’s a bit outdated, but it’s a still a completely valid resources as far as the recipes go.
Inside the Italian Kitchen
Last year I challenged myself to discovering what Italians really eat. I wanted to get out of the restaurants (which although are very good, aren’t always the most authentic) and get inside the kitchen of Italians. So I interviewed 5 of my good Italian friends and asked them to teach me some of their recipes. The result? A very authentic Italiok includes 10 recipes, lots of photos, step-by-step instructions, and personal interviews with each of the chefs by yours truly.
For other gift ideas from Italy Project 365, check out my Italy Gift List from 2013!
Keep in mind, these are my personal favorites – things that I’ve really enjoyed time and time again. While I love giving Italian wine, olive oil, cheese, chocolate, food etc… to friends and family, I think giving more permanent long lasting gifts such as these makes it bit more special.
Buon Natale tutti!
These gifts are things that I personally use and love, or items that I have purchased for friends and family. I’m also not affiliated with any of these authors (except for my own book, duh!), although I am an affiliate on Amazon. I never ever recommend anything I don’t like or haven’t tested myself.