If you’re going to Sicily and want to bring home something locally made and truly unique, here are my recommendations for what to buy in Sicily. I have purchased 3 of the 4 items below, and I bet you can guess which ones.
These are different from those of Sardinia, Tuscany, and Umbria, and in general they are less expensive. I love my pizza plates and lemon platter (photos above & below) from the island of Lipari, but the Caltagirone style is probably Sicily’s most famous. If you don’t want to carry your purchases in your luggage for the rest of your trip, have them shipped. The ceramics stores are accustomed to shipping overseas.
Marzipan fruit, or martorana
This edible and pretty sweet makes a great gift, either to bring home or as an Italian hostess gift should you need one. Pair a small basket of martorana with a dessert wine such as Moscato. Marzipan is easier to carry than ceramics, (though still not as easy as the best Italian souvenir, ever) and is tasty to boot.
Puppets are part of the Sicilian storytelling tradition. See a puppet show and buy one of the traditional characters – either an inexpensive one in the market, or a nicer one at one of the specialist puppet stores in Palermo.
And finally, who doesn’t need a Sicilian painted cart?
Allegedly one of Sicily’s dying artisanal traditions, these usually come out only during parades and celebrations (see photo), but if you really want one, a few thousand Euros will make it yours. Buy a miniature one for less than €100 or if you’re serious, go to Aci Sant’Antonio near Catania and visit the master, Domenico di Mauro (website in Italian). Not only is he still busy painting carts at age 94, he has orders well into 2010. Serious shoppers needn’t worry: he has trained a few apprentices.
Photos of ceramics by Madeline; Photo of marzipan fruits by slushpup
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