When you study abroad in Rome, you will quickly feel the difference between being a local and being a tourist. At first, everything will feel new and you will go sight-seeing, taking in the city as a tourist. But once you start adapting to the Roman lifestyle, you will begin to pick up local habits and customs. With that being said, when your semester comes to an end, you will want to make sure you have a few items to take back home with you as “souvenirs” of your time in Rome. You could buy some typical touristy knick-knacks like keychains or magnets… but instead, why not take home a few sentimental, typical Italian items that will truly represent your time abroad?
Here are 5 things that every study abroad student should buy when in Rome:
1. A Stovetop Moka Pot
It’s no secret that coffee is a very important part of Italian culture. Although you might miss your favorite cafè back home, or your American to-go coffee, chances are you will adapt to Italian coffee culture without even realizing it. Drinking espresso, and even making it at home, may become your habit as you pick up local customs. When you move to the city, you will notice that every typical Roman apartment–including the Viale Trastevere and Gianicolo Residence apartments–comes equipped with a stovetop moka pot. This little espresso maker is the perfect symbol of daily life in Rome. So why not buy one, take it back home, and leave it near your stovetop? You can make coffee every morning in it, or save it for the days when you’re really missing Rome. Either way, it will be both useful and sentimental.
2. Handmade Italian Stationery
Bringing back some beautiful handmade stationery is a wonderful way to remember your life in Italy. When you walk around Rome, you will come across quite a few paper stores full of delicate stationery, notebooks, journals, and other paper products. You can buy a nice notebook, and use it to journal your thoughts about your semester abroad when you get back home. Take it with you when you travel on future trips, or use it as an agenda. Or you could bring back some stationery and send little notes or letters to friends you met while studying abroad. There’s nothing like getting a real letter in your mailbox. You can find the colorful Florentine stationary in various shops around the city, including in Trastevere and near the Pantheon.
3. Italian Leather Goods
Leather goods are a more pricey souvenir, but they are definitely a worthwhile investment to represent your time in Rome. Throughout the city–and the country–there are specialized leather stores that carry handbags, bags, belts, jackets, and more. It is also common to find boots in many shoe stores that are genuine leather. Why not invest in a great pair of shoes, a wallet, or a bag that will be stylish, authentic, and great quality? A good pair of Italian leather boots can easily last five years or more.
4. Olive Oil
A bottle of good Italian olive oil is always a good idea. If you’ve studied abroad in Rome, you understand the importance of food in the Italian culture. Locals love their fresh ingredients, and tend to cook simple – but delicious – recipes passed down from generations. One very important aspect of Italian cooking is olive oil from the various regions of the country. You too will start to use olive oil a lot more in your cooking after spending time in Rome. Bring home a bottle or two of high-quality, extra-virgin olive oil, and you will always have a “taste” of Italy in your kitchen.
5. Local Art
Postcards are a common souvenir, but consider forgoing a generic postcard and buying a small painting or piece of local art instead! When you study abroad at John Cabot University, a large portion of your time will be spent strolling the beautiful streets of Trastevere, one of Rome’s most artistic and gentrified neighborhoods. Support you local artists and street vendors in the neighborhood and take home a beautiful piece of Roman art. You can choose a picturesque scene of your favorite piazza, side street, or monument. You can hang it in your room and look at it whenever you’re missing “home.”