Mindful travelling in Italy – a guide to my favorite eco-shops
Backpacking through Italy was a reinvigorating experience. With its historical heritage and fine cuisine, one could have enough candy to feed both its appetite and its eyes. My journey started in Rome and ended in Bologna, for a total of four cities in a week. The nomad lifestyle didn’t leave me much time to explore each city in depth but just enough to fall in love with a few local businesses who were dedicated to doing good for the planet – just the way I like them. Between gelaterias and thrift shops, I’ve put a list of the few places I got to visit and recommend if you are also following the green path.
Gelateria Stefino for the vegan aficionados
This gelateria has by far the best vegan ice cream I’ve ever had. The ingredients are so fresh, you should expect nothing but an explosion of flavors in your mouth. What’s great about this place is that it pleases both the conventional and the vegan type of foodie. The non-vegan options are made from fresh organic milk supplied by small farmers who developed a technique that unalters the milk’s nutritional properties. Interestingly enough, the vegan options are made of sprouted whole-grain rice milk providing it a wide variety of micronutrients. Worried about the texture? You shouldn’t – I can guarantee you couldn’t tell the difference between the vegan and dairy-based gelato. In fact, this gelateria discovered the use of vegetable additives like kuzu and baobab that act as thickening agents while offering nutritional benefits at the same time. What about the cacao and coffee beans? They’re all organic and fairtrade as well. Where this business scores even higher points is through its eco-conscious initiatives. Yep, it’s not over; Stefino is dedicated to the use of compostable and biodegradable packaging. Lastly, if you’re on a gluten free diet, rest assured because even their cones are entirely gluten-free! At this point, there’s no reason holding you from splurging into Stefino’s amazing treats. Next time you visit Italy, make sure to stop at one of their two locations in Rome or Bologna.
My personal faves: The Mediterraneo (almonds and pistachio) and Gianduia (hazelnut) – PS. They’re not cheap on hazelnuts
Bologna – Via Vitale 37
Roma – Viale Aventino 30 (close to the Colosseum)
Eco-popup Firenze for environmentally friendly variety items
Eco pop-up is a collective of artisans, local businesses and other small companies who care about the environment and have decided to join forces in order to sell their products under the same roof. From clothing and accessories to wellness products, cosmetics, food, and beverages, all of the products sold in the store are ecological, organic and ethically made. If you get the chance to stop by, make sure to check out the 2nd floor filled with second-hand garments and cool artistic items. My personal favorites? The vegan oxford shoes and the women’s heels made with natural cork.
via del Giglio 27R
Credit : Eco pop-up Firenze
Street doing vintage couture for authentic Italian scarves
My mother in law requested that I bring her back an elegant printed scarf from Italy. I somehow knew that Florence would be the ultimate destination for fashion items. To my surprise, this small city was filled with either high-end boutiques or countless outdoor stands of people selling the same “100% silk” scarfs and leather bags. I was very skeptical about those silk scarves sold at only 10 euros considering silk is a pretty expensive fabric. Fortunately, I came across this vintage store called ‘’street doing’’ that had just what I was looking for. Amongst the gorgeous couture second-hand clothes, was this suitcase full of authentic Italian scarves sold at 20 euros each. They were all beautiful and in perfect condition. What sold it to me is that I had the guarantee that they were authentic Italian made products. After chit-chatting with the friendly owner Gianfranco, I ended up buying one for my mother and one for my mother in law – it was a done deal. If you’re looking for second-hand luxury brands, this is the perfect location. Indeed, you could spend hours browsing through their unique clothes dating from the 1800’s and a vast collection of accessories. Although, keep in mind that haute couture in Italy will always be a luxury so be prepared to spend an arm and a leg.
Street doing vintage couture
Via Dei Servi n. 88/r
#RAW to get your ultimate green boost
Eating in Italy can be a pretty big challenge for vegan people. I’m not vegan, but I choose not to eat red meat or dairy products since I’m lactose intolerant. There is a big culture around meat in Italy and the vegetarian movement is starting to pick up, but only at a slow paste. Afterall, It’s going to be hard to change thousands of years of culture and history. After complaining to my boyfriend that I was not getting enough greens, I found this perfect little restaurant to satisfy my craving. They specialize in raw, vegan and vegetarian food. I was so relieved when I randomly fell on their doorstep! They offer a variety of smoothies and cold-pressed juices but also gluten free and grain free meal options. I ordered myself a decadent green smoothie with an extra shot of spirulina and I was good to go. Tip: once you step in, go in a little further to discover the seating area where a warm and exotic decor will make you feel like you’re one with nature.
Via Sant’Agostino 11R
credit : #RAW
Gelateria Edoardo – Florence’s organic gelato
If you’re in Florence you’ll have more than enough gelaterias to choose from – there’s one at every street corner. Although, Edoardo is probably the only one offering organically based ingredients. Their ice cream is free from additives, artificial coloring, preservatives and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). What makes them stand out even more, is their hand-made cones assembled in front of your eyes. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try one since I avoid gluten in my diet but the invigorating smell made it very hard to resist. However, I had a wine flavored ice cream and it tasted heavenly.
Piazza del Duomo, 45/R 5022, Florence
Friperie for your casual vintage thrift shop
Bologna being a student city, offered more affordable choices when it came to restaurants and boutiques. Even though I was only visiting for one day, I was lucky enough to have an Airbnb close to the main street which led me to discover a thrift shop more familiar to the ones we see in North America.The selection had a retro\vintage vibe where one could find either used clothes or the boutique’s own creations. The plus side? Prices were affordable compared to other vintage shops I’ve visited in Italy. No haute couture luxury, just casual vintage pieces with an Italian twist.
Via S. Vitale, 49/A, 40125 Bologna BO, Italie
credit : Friperie
A Putia for unique Sicilian artisanal gifts
The southern side of Italy was more laid back compared to the rest of the cities I’ve visited. I might be related to the fact that it’s surrounded by a stunning marina on one side and scenic mountains on the other. Like every other city, there was the main shopping street but the best boutiques are the unexpected ones that take you by surprise while you’re exploring narrower alleys. On via Aragona is where I discovered A PUTIA, a little shop filled with the most charming crafts. From accessories to home decor, the store was filled with hand-made items galore. Threads and fabrics were piled in the backstore but still visible to the eye and I thought it was charming. What really got my attention were those colorful hand painted earrings assembled with flair. In Spite of the language barrier, the friendly shop-owner and I quickly bonded – she seemed delighted that I fell in love with her earrings and I was happy with my findings. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find her facebook page but below is the address written on the paper wrap that contained my purchase.
Via Aragona, 4 – Palermo