Naples lies on the southern coast of Italy, next to Mount Vesuvius. The coastal town dates back to the second millennium B.C. The city is full of stunning architecture and historical sites to visit. In fact, winding through the historic district are two avenues in particular, which you should see. Via San Biagio dei Librai and Via San Gregorio Armeno, also known as Christmas Alley, since the many shops lining this street sell nativity sets and ornaments all year long. You will not find neon shop signs or signs of any kind along these narrow lanes. What you will find is a treasure trove of antique stores and local artisans crafting their wares. Below is a list of the 10 best souvenirs to buy in Naples, Italy.
1. Masquerade masks
Masks have been popular in Italy since Medieval times. They were originally used to disguise those naughty folks who wished to enjoy the gambling house or brothels when it was frowned upon to do so. Today, these masks are one of the most popular souvenirs for visitors to take home with them. You can find masks made from a variety of materials from leather to paper mache, and plain or highly painted and decorated. One of the most loved masks is the Plague Doctor, a painted face with a long-beaked nose.
2. Crèche pieces
In the United States, a creche is defined as a scene representing the nativity. And you will find many of those on Christmas Alley. But a creche can also be a miniature representation of just about anything. Among the many shops and vendors selling creche pieces, you can find everything from furniture for a dollhouse to a likeness of Elvis. Don’t just buy the first piece that you like, take the time to shop around first, you just might find the same item at a better price.
3. Italian packaged food
Mixed in among the shops and vendor stalls are pizzerias, bakeries and pasta shops. While you certainly can’t stuff a pizza into your suitcase, there are a variety of packaged foods you can take home with you. Check out the pasta shops where you can find freshly pressed olive oils, wrapped chocolates, limoncello packaged in cute lemon -shaped bottles and some colorfully shaped kinds of pasta.
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4. Christmas ornaments
On Via San Gregorio Armeno Christmas lasts all year long. In shops along this street, you will find a huge variety of Christmas ornaments. These ornaments come in different shapes and sizes and they are created from a number of different types of media. You might want to add a hand-carved wooden Santa to your collection, or maybe a porcelain angel with glittery wings.
5. Good-luck charms
In many of the shops you visit, you are likely to come across a playful looking fellow dressed in a white and red costume and sporting a black face mask. You have met Naples’ mascot, Pulcinella. He was originally a character in a long-ago puppet show. You will see figurines of him eating pizza or spaghetti, playing a musical instrument, or just frolicking about. If you are fortunate, you will find him holding a red horn, these statues are considered to be good luck charms.
Among the many artisans in the city are the ceramic makers. Their shops are noticeable by the many brightly colored items displayed on the windows and on the walls. Some of the most popular ceramic items purchased are the kitchen utensils, like the spaghetti measurers. But you will find just about anything from dinner or decorative plates to decorative masks.
7. Local artwork
As you wander through the many shops that sell souvenirs and handcrafts by the local artists, you just might stumble onto one of the few galleries in Naples. If you want something visual to remind you of your trip, then consider a small piece of art from a local artist. Mixed in with the landscapes, city scenes, and photos, you may be surprised to find artwork depicting American celebrities. The Italians are huge fans of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Michael Jackson.
8. Local jewelry
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Probably one of the most popular types of souvenirs that people buy while on vacation is a piece of locally made jewelry. If this is what you are looking for, you will not be disappointed. The jewelry made along the Amalfi Coast is truly stunning. In Naples, you will see beautiful cameos carved out of seashells, hand-carved wooden earrings and bracelets, and stunning gems set in gold and silver.
9. Music boxes
If you want to take home a truly special souvenir of your time in Naples, consider one of the many stunning music boxes. Two shops located on Via San Biagia are the best places to find one. They come made from terracotta, ceramic, paper, and wood. Choose one with a painted scene or inlaid with semi-precious stones or mother of pearl. If you find the perfect box, but not the perfect tune, check with the owner, they are often willing to change the tune to the one you like better.
10. Handmade journals
A great way to remember your trip to Naples is with a handmade journal. You will find a small shop on the Via Tribunali that sells them. Some have leather bindings or colored paper. You will also find them embossed or printed. Find one that appeals to you and then write about the places you visit, the food you eat, and the people you meet. Once you get home, add pictures from your trip to the corresponding pages and you will have a unique keepsake that you share with friends and family.
Getting your souvenirs home
When packing your suitcases to go on vacation, it is a good idea to leave some room to bring back souvenirs. Many of us don’t think that far ahead. If you find that you have purchased more than you can fit in your luggage, don’t worry. Check with the shopowners as many of them will ship it to your home for a small fee.
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