10 Brands That Capture the Spirit of Italy

I’ve been working in Italy all this week, so thought I’d reflect on the brands that I think truly capture the spirit of Italy. This is very much an outsider point of view. I’m sure indigenous Italians would have a different perspective. Here goes, in no particular order

1. Armani


There are so many Italian fashion brands to choose from, but in the end it had to be Armani. When you fly to Milan – often in fog – there’s an aircraft hanger near the runway with a huge ‘Emporio Armani’ sign on it. I see it and think ‘Hurrah I’m in Italy’

2 Illy Cafe


Italy gave the world the language of coffee, and the two key brands are illy and Lavazza. Perfect for your Moka coffee maker. In the end, I think iIly is more ubiquitous, particularly in bars. Plus I like the metal tin.

3. Barilla


There are hundreds of pasta brands in italy, but the biggest by far is Barilla, with its distinctive blue box. Although da Cecco is often regarded as the most premium pasta brand, if ever you go to an itallian deli in the UK, you’ll always find Barilla. I feel a bit guilty about not going for Buitoni – the brand I used to work on – but my head ruled my heart

4. Nutella


The smell and taste of this hazelnut chocolate spread is uniquely Italian. There’s nothing quite like it. Although can you find it everywhere nowadays, there was a time when you only ever get in Italy. When I went on holiday to Italy as a kid, it was the first thing I looked for

5. Campari


I never think about drinking Campari and Soda in the UK, but when it’s time for an aperitivo in Italy, I’ve just got to have one. It’s not exactly the trendiest drink – everyone orders Aperol Spritz nowadays –  but for me it’s the still best way to kick off the evening.

6 Birra Moretti


On the subject of alcohol, there are only 2 well known beer brands in Italy- Peroni and Moretti. I like them both, but in the end I’ve gone for Moretti, because it’s much less available outside of Italy than Peroni, which is now more of an international brand. Plus Moretti’s from Udine, which is where I am at the moment. I’ve got one in front of me right now

7 Fiat 500


Choosing a car brand was tough because there are so many great Italian car brands  – Ferrari, Alfa, Maserati, etc – but I’ve chosen the Fiat 500. A truly icon brand, which – like the Mini – has been re-invented for today’s generation

8 Vespa


There was only scooter brand I could choose – Vespa (wasp in Italian). The scooter that looks a bit like a small van is called Ape (bee in Italian). The Vespa was Immortalised in the film ‘Roman Holiday’ and I can’t imagine Italy without them. I was shocked to learn recently that in Italy you can start riding them from as young as 14 years of age.

9 San Pellegrino


I can’t think of another brand of Italian sparkling water  – can you? it’s served everywhere. Much better than any of the French mineral water brands.

10. Carpigiani


Strange choice I know, but Carpigiani is the brand of ice cream machines that you find in all ice cream vans. My family made ice cream for a living so I spent my youth cleaning them or serving ice cream from them. Have a look next time you buy a 99.

So, here’s my top 10. All fabulous brands that help bring to life this wonderful country.


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