What To Buy
Umbria is a wonderful place to shop for artisan wares as many of the medieval hill towns have a number of specialized shops selling high quality, hand crafted items. Some of the items such as the wonderful Umbrian linens and ceramics made in Umbria have become so famous worldwide that they now have schools created to teach these ancient skills. In general, shops open from 9am until 1pm and then open again from 3 until 8 pm.
Ceramics – Umbrian ceramics, or Maiolica (also known as “majolica”) are made and hand painted in a number of towns in Umbria, including Gualdo Tadino, Orvieto, and Gubbio, but the most famous ceramic town in Umbria is certainly Deruta where the streets are lined with one ceramic store after another. The art of ceramic making is one of the most traditional of any of the Umbrian crafts and you can find the same hand painted designs that have been used for centuries, as well as many newer more modern designs. Read my blog post on Deruta ceramics.
Textiles – The craft of weaving linens with historical patterns is one that is carried out in a number of studios across Umbria, particularly in Perugia. These linens, fabrics, and carpets are still made today using ancient methods and can be found in stores across Umbria.
Handmade Baskets – The reeds that grown around Lago di Trasimeno are used to make hand woven baskets today, just as they were in ancient times. The reeds are woven into other items as well, such as mats and traps for fishing and these items can be found sold in the small towns around Lake Trasimeno.
Cashmere – Umbria has a large number of small knitwear companies that specialize in items made from cashmere wool. The most famous of these companies is Brunello Cucinelli who exports worldwide, but you can buy cashmere items from most of the smaller knitwear companies from their outlet shops. Many of the cashmere factories are located around the town of Corciano, including Brunello Cucinelli who has a boutique in Solomeo, a small village near Corciano that he is restoring.
Wooden Items – Items that include everything from children’s toys to kitchen items are sold across Umbria made from olive wood.
Cured Meats & Sausages – The cured meats of lower Umbria, particularly the area around Norcia are famous across Italy. The butchers of Norcia use both pig and wild boar to make every type of cured meat imaginable.
Truffles – Umbria is famous for it’s black truffle, known as tartufo nero, which grows in the Valnerina region around Norcia. Fresh black truffles are usually sold from November through March, although you can buy a variety of truffle flavored items in jars and bottles year round.
Chocolates – Perugia is famous for it’s chocolates and has been making chocolates since the early 1900s. You can even tour the Perugina factory before buying your chocolates.
Wine – Umbria has become quite famous for its wine production in recent years, particularly the whites from around Orvieto, and the reds around Montefalco. You can visit and taste wine in many of the region’s wineries, but buying directly from the vineyard generally is no cheaper than buying wine from the local store.