Bring home authentic, high-quality handmade goods as souvenirs — and get a jump on holiday shopping. In honor of the acclaimed International Antiques and Fine Arts Biennale, opening Saturday in Florence, Italy, and continuing through Oct. 7, Laura Morelli, author of Made in Italy, Made in the Southwest and Made in France (lauramorelli.com), shares her favorite places to shop with Kathy Baruffi for USA TODAY.
“For seasoned collectors and curious tourists alike, the Spanish Market as well as the annual Indian Market (swaia.org/market) are excellent sources for Native American and Hispanic handmade goods, from turquoise bracelets to hammered tin Christmas ornaments,” Morelli says. The Spanish Market is held twice a year, in July and December. Go celebrity-spotting and window-shopping along Canyon Road. Stay at the Inn of the Anasazi or just feast at its restaurant. Indulge at Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese-style spa in the woods 4 miles north of town. 505-982-2226; spanishmarket.org.
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“In the birthplace of the cowboy boot, a few old-fashioned shoemakers have elevated this once-humble footwear to high art,” says Morelli, and Little’s Boots, established in 1915, is “among the best.” The handsome, high-quality dress boots are strictly made-to-order. Stay at a hotel along the River Walk, a promenade in the center of downtown where you can shop or eat many types of food, including authentic Mexican. 210-923-2221; davelittleboots.com.
Kinngait Co-operative Ltd. (West Baffin Eskimo Co-op)
Cape Dorset, Canada
This Arctic town is in the new Canadian territory of Nunavut. “Native Inuit carvings of soapstone, bone and antlers make wonderful portable collectibles,” Morelli says. “Buy from community cooperatives such as the ones you’ll find in Cape Dorset, on the southwest tip of Baffin Island, and other small communities across Nunavut. The Canadian government uses an igloo trademark to indicate authentic origin and craftsmanship.” Other attractions include polar bear viewing and kayaking between the ice floes. 866-686-2888; nunavuttourism.com.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
“Thailand’s second-largest city is famous for its craft traditions,” Morelli says. “Numerous ‘factories’ filled with individual silver and bronze smiths, embroiderers and jewelry makers cluster along Sankampaeng Road. Crafters also can be found at the Night Market, named for its odd hours, 6 p.m. to midnight. If you have time, venture into the surrounding hill towns such as Tohn Pao, Bor Sarng and Pa Bong, where you can explore artisan studios and find fantastic bargains on unique embroidered textiles, ceremonial masks, Buddhas and exquisite woodcarvings.” tourismthailand.org.
International Antiques and Fine Arts Biennale
“Whether someone is a well-heeled arts buyer or a budget traveler, this event has something for everyone,” Morelli says. “The modest entrance fee (about $14) allows visitors to view the many museum-quality antiques and fine-art works on display while touring the fair’s home, the Palazzo Corsini.” For more great shopping, visit Florentine leather crafters and other artisans clustered in workshops along the streets stretching from the Pitti Palace on the south side of the River Arno. mostraantiquariato.it/eng/frame.htm.
“Wooden carvings, sisal baskets and colorful ceramic beads are among Kenya’s most traditional wares. This gallery on Banda Street features carved wooden bowls and sculpture, jewelry, textiles and more, all of impressive quality,” Morelli says. Plan to be in Nairobi on Tuesdays for the weekly Maasai market, a traditional African open market in the center of the city. africanheritage.net
“This and other shops located in the Bastille quarter in the 11th arrondissement offer a no-frills alternative to glitzy Right Bank boutiques,” Morelli says. “The specialty here is handcrafted furniture, mostly fancy period pieces that require the collaboration of several craftspeople experienced in working wood, marquetry (inlaid veneer), stone and metal.” rinck.fr
El Mercado de Artesanias
Oaxaca City, Mexico
“Shops selling quality handcrafted Zapotec rugs cluster in the streets between the zócalo (town square) and Santo Domingo de Guzman Church, and the craft specialty market known as El Mercado de Artesanias. In outlying villages, especially Teotitlán del Valle, a town known for its colorful, hand-woven rugs, you can buy directly from some 150 weavers and witness them work firsthand,” Morelli says. www.visitmexico.com.
The Crafts Museum
“Handcrafted goods — from textiles to jewelry and carving — are the lifeblood of India’s economy and one of the pillars of its cultural identity. This excellent museum is a good place to grasp the rich history of Indian craft,” Morelli says. “In the museum shop, you can choose among high-quality saris, papier-mâché masks, ornaments, carved boxes and other treasures, as well as watch craftspeople demonstrating their work.” travelgodelhi.com/delhi-museum/delhi-craft-museum.htm.
Kyoto Handicraft Center
“One of Japan’s richest cultural cities, Kyoto is also home to many masters of clay, paper and wood,” Morelli says. “You can get a big-picture view of the region’s traditions at this seven-story extravaganza, where you can watch artisans at work, and even try your hand at making cloisonné jewelry or woodblock prints.” kyotohandicraftcenter.com.
This piece originally appeared in USA TODAY. Read on: 10 great places to be a tourist–and a shopper...
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