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Unique shopping in hilltowns Southern Tuscany/Chianti?

NY, NY
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Unique shopping in hilltowns Southern Tuscany/Chianti?

On my last trip to Italy, I thought I was buying special paper in Florence-- then came home to see the exact paper being sold at Marshalls for less. In NYC, I also have access to a Santa Maria Novella store as well as other specialty items. I would love to find unique items on my upcoming trip (am skipping Florence this time) to Southern Tuscany-- handmade items of any kind, ceramics, unique drugstore items, antiques (not super high end), basically all price ranges, interesting things I cannot buy in NYC. I am also interested in specialty food items that I can't get at Dean and Deluca. Or cute clothing shops that do not have a branch in the US (like Antoine et Lili in Paris, for example). Can anyone recommend either items to be on the look out for or great little shops in the hilltowns of Chianti and Val D'Orcia areas?

Montreal
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1. Re: Unique shopping in hilltowns Southern Tuscany/Chianti?

Some things I'm fairly sure can't be found in NYC: Copperware by Cesare Mazzetti in Montepulciano, handmade shoes by Carlo Fagiani in Panzano, pecorino cheese in all the gradations found in Pienza, Terre di Siena DOP extra virgin olive oil from small producers (as opposed to the created-for-the-American-market Laudemio "brand" carried by Dean & De Luca), panforte and ricciarelli from Nannini in Siena, ceramics featuring Sienese contrada symbols.

NY, NY
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2. Re: Unique shopping in hilltowns Southern Tuscany/Chianti?

Fantastic! Thanks so much for the reply, I am making note.

Montepulciano, Italy
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3. Re: Unique shopping in hilltowns Southern Tuscany/Chianti?

I'm possibly not the best person to comment for I don't know the NYC stores but I do know the stores around here and I know what my friends love to buy to take home.

In Montalcino check out la Sfinge for things for the house, especially top quality olive wood items at good prices. They also do Brunello bottle cork noticeboards. Across the street and down a bit is Montalcino 564 where they have a great range of stuff, though it's not cheap. A friend of mine at Christmas bought a very unique souvenir from there - a copy of the Montalcino 564m sign that you see as you come into the town - and says it looks great in her London flat. They have a limited range of nice clothes and bags too plus toiletries, books and wine (though it's cheaper elsewhere).

In Pienza Marusco & Maria (about mid-way down on the left as you come in) have a fabulous selection of pecorino cheeses at good prices, which they'll vacuum seal in plastic to take back, plus lots of jars of locally made honeys and jams and herbs, etc. and the prices here are pretty good. Further on on the same side, it's the last shop on the left before the cathedral square, is a place that sells wonderful soaps including one that is called herbs of the Val d'Orcia and smells amazing. Turning round and heading back towards the public gardens, there's a store on the left almost at the end (opposite the very expensive and best avoided antique shop / jewellers) selling lovely linen but her prices are a bit on the high side. (If you have time and want fabrics, head over to less-well-known Sarteano and Anna Romagnoli's wonderful linen store.) However, whilst you're in Pienza, go beyond the cathedral square passed the Palazzo Comunale and there on the left you'll find Biagiotti, the in-town outlet of a local family that makes incredibly beautiful things out of wrought iron plus keeps a small range of antiques. Primarily furniture (the desk I'm writing at plus half my house comes from these great guys) but also fabulous bits and pieces including model palio riders, gorgeous candle sticks and wonderful wrought iron cypressi that come in a range of sizes and will always remind you of Tuscany. Please don't be tempted by the antique seller next door, seriously over-priced.

In Cetona there's a ceramics place on the main square (I think it's called Pipo's) where the father and son do a range of very modern plates and bowls that different to the usual flowery patterns you see all over.

If your visit coincides with the first weekend of the month, do head over to Arezzo where the entire centre of the old town is taken over by antique stalls selling every conceivable item you can imagine, so long as its vintage. Old postcards, Italian magazines, maps, jewellery, a fur stole are just a few of things my friends have bought on visits and found were light enough to carry home.

In the Chianti at le Cantine in Greve they sell lovely wine-related bits and pieces. Oh and la Fiaschetteria in Montalcino has a small store next door where they sell crockery and glasses with the cafe name on it. We bought a decanter there at Christmas for friends and thought it was good value at Euros 13.

alaska
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4. Re: Unique shopping in hilltowns Southern Tuscany/Chianti?

Our best "souvenier" from our trips to Tuscany are the one of a kind ceramic tiles we had made in Siena. . We used 20 of them in the renovation of our bathroom and get to enjoy them every day, sometimes even more then once a day.

They tell a great story. The owner of the shop grew up in Siena and remembers the train station being bombed during WW II. She sent us a picture based on the design and colors we wanted. We sent back a few sugestions and the tiles were waiting for us when we arrived in Siena.

I agree that getting wine and olice oil made from a place you have visited and know the people is priceless. Bring back some bottles of a great Brunello or a Chianti Reserva that was not made in large enough quantities to export.

Montepulciano
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5. Re: Unique shopping in hilltowns Southern Tuscany/Chianti?

In Montepulciano:

-Aliseda Jewellery, www.aliseda.it/studio.htm, on the highest part of the Corso. High-high level artworks in gold with the Etruscan technique. Of course, it's not for a souvenir on a budget, but it worths a stop even only to see something unique. They also organize courses about techniques of the Etruscan Jewellery (http://www.aliseda.it/alessandro/lessons.htm)

- Camiceria Crociani, tailor made shirts, just next to Aliseda

- Eredi Biagianti, on the Corso just next to St. Agostino's Church.Open since the beginning of 1900, it's one of the oldest shops in all Tuscany, and they offer very high quality Tuscan household fabrics, http://www.eredibiagianti.it/

-"Maledetti Toscani" family-run shop of shoes and leather , on the Corso (they have a shop also in Cortona)

For food:

- DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil ( produced by most of the producers of Vino Nobile). For a decent quality, you will not pay not less than 8-9 Euro per 0.5 lt.Interesting quality/price for the one of the Frantoio di Montepulciano (shop on the corso, next to Marzocco's Column, tastings available)

- Vin Santo. A quality one starts from 18.00 Euro for 375 ml.Very famous (and very expensive) the "Occhio di Pernice"quality. Better to buy from known producers, avoid home-made products. Suggested producers: Avignonesi, Valdipiatta, Godiolo, Berne.

- Grappa di Nobile. Just few of the producers of Nobile offer also grappa. Between the medium-size producers: good rate quality/price for Canneto, Valdipiatta (almost impossible to find, after the very high score had in the specialised press "Bibenda"). Not less than 18-20 Euro for a 700-750 ml bottle

- Pecorino di Pienza. "Caseificio Cugusi" is between the first producers in Tuscany and one the most famous. They also have a shop on the Corso

NY, NY
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6. Re: Unique shopping in hilltowns Southern Tuscany/Chianti?

Thank you for all the wonderful replies! I am noting all of these.

In regards to the cheese, wine, grappa and olive oil-- thanks again for the suggestions on your favorites. I realize my question centered on the hilltowns specifically, but we would also like to purchase some of these type of items directly from the farm/vineyard-- does anyone have additional suggestions for which farms (for cheese, olive oil) or vineyards (for grappa, as we are not bringing wine home) in the Val D'Orcia or Chianti area would be either high quality/hard to get elsewhere and/or an "experience" to visit. I don't care about a tour but I love the idea of purchasing directly from a charming producer.

Montepulciano
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7. Re: Unique shopping in hilltowns Southern Tuscany/Chianti?

A producer where you can buy pecorino sheep cheese, in Pienza area:

Podere il Casale,http://www.podereilcasale.it/ ( information about products on http://www.ilcasale.ch/index_en.php).Visit to their dairy can be arranged on demand. In Montepulciano several wineries produce also grappa: Tenuta Valdipiatta, Avignonesi, Canneto...

Castellina in...
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8. Re: Unique shopping in hilltowns Southern Tuscany/Chianti?

For "antique-finish" items in wood, try Landi in Greve greve-in-chianti.com/furniture-antiques/Land… - there's a link to their catalogue there which shows some examples. Almost next door is Ricami Valoriani which sells beautiful linen and similar items.

9. Re: Unique shopping in hilltowns Southern Tuscany/Chianti?

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