Prior to going on any trip, I search out videos to watch about the place we plan to visit. YouTube is my go-to place but I happened to view “Bobby and Giada in Italy” on the Food Network to prepare for our trip to Rome. On one of the episodes, Giada visits an artist right around the corner from her mother’s apartment in Rome to find a gift for Bobby. This cool shop, La Bottega del Marmoraro, is her favorite place to go (and now mine!) to get personalized gifts from Sandro Fiorentina, a marble craftsman and true Italian artisan.
For a truly unique souvenir, I highly recommend you take a stroll to 53 Via Margutta and order a handmade one-of-a-kind marble plaque to bring home for yourself and others. Entering this artisan’s workshop filled with treasures is an experience you won’t forget. Be prepared with your order on a piece of paper in Italian-any translator app will do this for you. Sandro doesn’t speak very much English, so I researched in advance what I wanted on my customized marble signs: “sisters” in Italian for my sisters who visited Italy with me on a Girls Trip the prior year and “Goditi il Viaggio” aka “Enjoy the Journey” for myself because that is the motto I strive to live by.
Using some hand gestures to indicate the size of the sign I wanted, we settled on a date I would come back to get the finished products. Order your treasures early in your Rome stay to allow time for them to be custom made. My order took two days to complete but perhaps Sandro won’t be so busy when you visit, and it will take less time. The price was very reasonable for such a unique gift. If you don’t have time for a custom order, Sandro does have a vast assortment of signs already made with common sayings that you can purchase. So, get your translator app out and find a souvenir with a saying on it that speaks to you to take home immediately.
As with any trip, always leave room in your luggage for souvenirs to take home! I tried shipping wine/olive oil home from Italy on a previous trip, and it took months and there was damage enroute so I wouldn’t recommend that approach. My favorite souvenir for myself, besides Sandro’s sign, is jewelry (from local artisans if possible). It’s lightweight and easy to pack. I got an amazing necklace for $25euros at a little boutique by our hotel in Rome. Don’t be afraid to get off the tourist trail and seek out hidden gems. You won’t regret it. Enjoy the journey!