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  • Great Gifts for Italians
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    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    My son and I have just a couple more weeks in Italy before we return home to the United States. But many Italian Americans I know will be visiting the Homeland in July, August, or even in the fall, which are popular times to travel to Europe. If they are like us, they'll be seeing lots of Italian relatives, and they'll want to treat them to some American goodies. But what to bring them? If you're short on ideas, here are some trendy things from America that most Italians I know truly appreciate:

    Flag clothing and accessories – We've been on the island of Ischia (off the coast of Napoli) for the past three months and everyone is sporting clothes and accessories with the American (or British) flag. My niece has Converse with the American flag. There are others walking around with scarves that have the flag on them. There's more American patriotism here than in Washington, D.C. on the fourth of July. And people say the Europeans loathe America. They might, but our flag makes a great fashion statement apparently. If you have to get gifts for lots of people those American flag T-shirts that stores, such as Target and Old Navy, sell during the weeks leading up to Independence Day are a great bargain and will be well worn.

    Towels – Italians tend to use bathrobes for drying off after the shower, and their beach towels tend to be thin. Plush bath towels or beach towels are always a great gift. You can easily carry them without worrying about anything breaking, and they're really practical. Towels with designs or embellishments on them tend to be super expensive in Italy, too, so you could always use your 20 percent off coupon at Bed Bath & Beyond and really wow them with something chic for their bathroom.

    Party supplies – This sounds like a strange gift, I know. But no one loves a party more than the Italians. Yet, they don't have the same kind of party stores and dollar stores that we have in America. Whenever Italian friends and family visit me in America, and I throw them a party (which I often do), they are usually floored by the decorations. Sure, I make a few of them; think tissue paper flowers and cupcake toppers. Most of them, however, I buy. And I don't spend that much on them either. In the past, I have sent my husband (then my boyfriend) a birthday party in a box for his big day. I mailed some signs I made on my computer, birthday paper plates and napkins, balloons, garlands, cake toppers, and funky candles.

    Designer Labels – Italians tend to be fashion plates. They love designer labels, and some of the American ones are among their favorites. Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and especially Ralph Lauren can't get enough play in Italy. Anything, even a T-shirt, from one of these big names will get a great reaction from friends and family receiving it. Since most Americans can find outlet shops for these labels near them, you can usually find some bargains. By the way, U.S. Polo (which is not affiliated with Ralph Lauren Polo) is also popular in Italy nowadays, so don't feel limited to one Polo or the other.

    Food – Italy is a nation full of foodies. And many Italians like to try new things. My friends here love it when I bring them hot sauce or barbecue sauce, candy, such as M&Ms, Hershey Kisses, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. You could also bring different kinds of salts, such as pink or black salt, which are interesting additions to both fish and meat. Rubs and spices that they might not find in Italy are also great gifts. Many of my Italian friends like cheddar cheese or even individually wrapped American cheese. I know most of us think of that as weird since they have some of the best cheese in the world and cheddar and American hardly compare, but everyone wants what they don't have.

    Di Meglio is the Guide to Newlyweds for About.com, and you can follow her life and work at the Two Worlds Web site.


    Article Published 6/18/2012

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