You may think you know all of the Bel Paese’s prestigious “Made in Italy” products. You have felt the cashmere and silks, ordered the fine linen, admired the ceramics, worn the leather, sipped the wine, and sampled all of Italy’s best fare from prosciutto to pasticcera. But there is one product, humble yet unsurpassable, that only true insiders know to stock up on when visiting: socks.
(Photo by David Goehring via Flickr)
Italy’s focus on fashion and design doesn’t stop at the ankles. Under those fabulous Prada heels or Tod’s loafers, Italians don soft, fine weave cotton or wool socks in eye-popping colors and designs. The quality and creativity of their socks (and, for women, tights) isn’t so surprising if you think about it…Italy also produces impeccable lingerie for men and women (think La Perla), so their attention to style begins at the skin and travels from head to toe.
(Photo by Ilaria via Flickr)
Socks are a wonderful souvenir (for you or for folks back home) to seek out in Italy, as they are light and easy to pack, and don’t involve fussy try-ons or sizing guesswork. There are a few luxury sock producers, but our hands-down favorite is Gallo. With a number of boutiques in cities across Italy, this line of designer knitwear produces clothing and accessories from coats to headbands, though we always make a beeline to the footwear. Though a pair of cotton socks will set you back around €20, consider it a long-term investment: these indulgently soft calzini are virtually indestructible and will last for years.
For fun bulk buys, we love Calzedonia. A ubiquitous chain with branch stores in everything from the smallest towns to the largest cities, Calzedonia hawks lighthearted, quirky socks and tights in unique tones and patterns. The prices are relatively inexpensive (especially during their frequent “buy three pairs and get the fourth for free” and similar offers), and the shops overflowing with a rainbow of hanging and stacked socks are fun to browse. The bright, contemporary styles are especially great gifts for kids, teenagers, and the young at heart.
(Photo by Pucci.it via Flickr)
The only downside to this flashy Italian footwear? Sooner or later, you’ll have to cover it up with shoes!