What is made in Italy

Italy is probably one of the most famous countries in the world, mostly known for its food, climate, art and architecture. Many people tend to see it as an incredibly unique country, and “made in Italy” label carry a lot of weight worldwide. But why is that? I think this is due to many reasons. Firstly, Italy has a lot of small workshops specialising in very niche products – it makes them exceptionally good at what they do. Secondly, it has a veil of secrecy and feeling of discovery because it is not coming in large volume. And lastly, this country is so amazing that everyone wants to own a small memory of it. So discover your favourite piece of Italy Use this guide as a tool to find your own hidden Italian treasure.

Leather Products Of Marche

Italian colourful leather accessoriesred shoes from ItalyItalian shoes
This region has had specialised leather workshops for centuries. Since 1980’s they transformed into small independent businesses each carrying their own brand names attached to that workshops. Some of those brands, of course, are more famous (Guzzini, Teuco, Tod’s) than others (Bagatto, Nicola Benson, Cappelleti). 90 per cent of Italian shoes are made in the hills of this region.

Of course, we could not ignore the hot topic these days – Tod’s soft suede shoes for Ferrari. Pictured on the left.

This region is not just about shoes. Majority of Italian leather jackets, belts and other leather accessories are mainly coming from the mountainous central provinces of Ascoli and Macerata.

I might be biased, but as a user of Il Bussetto colourful leather accessories, I think they show the best contemporary leather craftsmanship out there.

It seems that this region has not been globally undiscovered yet, and hence has a potential for some great finds.

Glass And Glasses

Designer Glass Light from ItalyItalian glass Murano chandelierItalian Murano glass selectionItalian Murano Glass lampItalian sunglasses
Colourful and easily recognizable Venetian glass was invented in… (surprise, surprise) Venice. Craftsmanship and innovation goes back to the time when Byzantine craftsmen escaped Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204 first, and then, as a second wave, during Ottoman take over in 1453.

As these days the making process can be copied by anyone, aim for the following three brands: Pauly, Seguso (since 1397) and Barovier & Toso (since 1295). Their Venetian glass is not only made in Italy but even at the same historical workshops in the city of Murano, Venice

Glassmaking skills apply to the making of the eyewear too. Luxottica, located in Veneto is making eyeglasses and sunglasses for the majority of the world’s luxury brands like Ray Band, Chanel, Valentino, Versace, Tiffany & Co and etc. Made in Italy does play well with the luxury brand image, no doubt.

Interestingly, at some point, Luxottica was even making Google Glass too.


Maiolica jar made in ItalyMade in Italy jar for cookies
After producing ceramic products for millennia been the small town of Castelli, in Abruzzo, is well known for its output of ceramic plates. It all started with Benedictine monks who started to produce plates in the 11th century. A most famous and easily recognizable is undoubtedly Maiolica – a colourful tin-plated ceramic, produced since the 15th century.

Its ceramics painting techniques set it apart from other mainstream approaches. Colour in maiolica tin-glazed earthenware is applied to the under-fired glaze, which absorbs the pigment like a fresco. This technique makes it impossible to correct any mistakes but is ideal for preserving brilliant colours.

Interestingly, the most popular Maiolica product is a ceramic biscuit box (pictured). A previously huge industry, it is now concentrated to a few remaining contemporary manufacturers in cities of Deruta and Montelupo.



Line of jeans from Italy
Contrary to popular belief, jeans were “invented” in Italy and not America.

The city of Chieri, near Turin, used to produce a blue coloured fence in the 15th century. This was then exported through the port of Genoa, where this type of fabric was used to pack sacks for sailboats. Then during the Renaissance, fabrics adopted the name of its production place. Today it is widely considered that the English word blue-jeans is derived directly from the words bleu de Gênes or blue of Genoa in French.

There are quite a few companies with made in Italy label on it. To name one that stands out – Candiani. Is known for being the largest denim producer in Europe, its greenest credentials in the industry and a 75-year history of family-run operation from Milan.

In Berlin’s Bread and Butter fashion festival, people could customise their jeans, so watch out for the same opportunity in 2018.


Musical Boxes With Wood Inlay Design

Italian wooden boxWood designsMusic box workshop
Wood inlay technique originated from Naples region in XVI century. It is used to create patterns and pictures on the furniture, wall pictures and jewellery boxes.

Hence it is not surprising that you can still find such makers in this region today. Recently, while travelling along the coast of Italy, I discovered a maker of exceptional wooden musical boxes in the city of Sorrento. Among his designs, you can see classic designs dating back centuries, but I personally enjoyed seeing his take on the more contemporary design.

Each pattern and shape, you see in the picture, is hand cut and inlaid on a wooden surface. This very creative and labour intensive design is now used to make jewellery slash jewellery boxen small scale. As a buyer, you can choose one of 12 tunes available, and the artist (a professor in carving and arts) Antonino Moiyone signs a certificate of authenticity.


Wrist Watches

Italian handmade watchWatch made in ItalyItalian watch
Panerai is undoubtedly the most famous Italian watchmaker. It is known for making diving watches for the Italian navy for over 50 years. But there are other, less known secrets to be uncovered too. When Panerai moved its manufacturing to Switzerland after the take over by Richemont in 1997, its facilities and staff were taken over by Anonimo. Now they are making around 4000 of handmade waterproof watches per year.

There are also quite a few small boutique watchmakers with a true made in Italy certification to discover. Here are few to start with:

U-Boat from Lucca specialising for flight enthusiasts, with some of the designs following trends from the 1940s.

Or Meccaniche Veloci with their Quattro Valvole (Four Pistons) collection. It was developed in partnership with Bremo, where they use supercar parts and materials to achieve unique look and feel.

Or Officina del Tempo from Senigallia, a brand launched in 2000 by two passionate watch collectors.


Bicycle made in Italy for womene-bike made in ItalyContemporary Italian made bicycle
Every biking fan will tell you, Italy is cult and a legend for its cycling history connections. So no wonder that there are so many bicycle brands born here. However, it is becoming harder and harder to distinguish between an Italian brand (which can be made anywhere) and an Italian bicycle maker who truly makes bicycles in Italy. The remaining Italian makers are becoming small handmade boutiques or highly specialised experts. The list is long, but I will suggest a few to start with:

Tommasini is one of the boutique bicycle brands that kept their manufacturing at its original Italian base in Grosseto since 1957. Although initially praised for steel frame bikes, it has now also started hand making carbon, titanium and aluminium frames too.

Velorapida makes stunning vintage bikes that are electric capable of achieving speeds up to 25 km/h for 60 kilometres.

Cipollini is known for its custom-made approach, contemporary looks and latest materials used.


Ferrari a car made in ItalyCar made in Italy
Most of the cultural imaginary of Italy depends on luxury cars. It is true, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati are made in Italy. Part of the huge costs of the cars is due to the manual process which is used instead of the automated process most carmakers are currently using. They are all based in Northern Italy, specifically in Emilia Romagna.

Ferrari 812 Superfast is the latest Ferrari model. As expected, it is not easily affordable with a price of 291,642 Euros. Hence you might want to consider Maserati, who’s latest Levante SUV, costs “only” 73.417€

Much of Ferrari’s fame is due to the Formula 1 team and merchandising, which are more profitable to the company than cars themselves. Moreover, there is even a Ferrari themed park in Dubai, and a themed land in Port Aventura, near Barcelona.



Cruise Ships

Italian FerryMade in Italy ferry
It might sound peculiar but Italy has built some of the safest and largest cruise ships in the world. Fincantieri, a state-owned company, based in Trieste has been one of the industrial powerhouses of the country in the last 60 years.

Since the beginning of the 80s, the company envisaged a new trend in the tourism industry and began to build Cruise ships and large yachts. Most of Costa Crociere and MSC ships, two of the leading Italian cruises companies, have been built in Trieste. As well as the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder, the first two ships of the Disney Cruise Line. A total of 80 cruise ships have now been built here.

MSC Seaside is the biggest ship ever built at Fincantieri with a tonnage of 154,000. It is set to operate throughout the year in the Medditerian sea. Sailing from Miami port, Florida, the maiden voyage is set for December 2017.



Feeling inspired? Looking for more stories about original things made in Europe? Discover other countries too. Here are our guides on what is made in: Sweden, Lithuania, Germany

Author: Mattia Galante