Made in Italy

Just some of the things we found marked 'made in Italy'

Just some of the things we found marked ‘made in Italy’

Don’t worry, we have not turned out back on all things British made, but we have just come back off our first foreign family holiday in 5 years. Our plan was to forget all about our day jobs, the British Family Fayre, the Britipedia directory, the made in Britain logo and our various British manufacturing campaigning projects to simply relax for one week in the sunshine of southern Italy. However, old habits die hard.

Today we traveled back from the wonderful island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples. Lucan spent just about every waking moment in the swimming pool and actually swam for the firm time unaided in the luxurious thermal pool at our chosen hotel. We all ate our fill of fantastically fresh food and enjoyed the welcoming hospitality of our Italian hosts. In short, while we have had a fantastic holiday. However, it was hard, while there, not to begin to draw some parallels between what the Italians appear to have preserved that we, in the UK, seem to have all but lost.

First off it is clear that the Brits’ and the Italians’ relationships to food differ wildly. The Italians have an obvious reverence for their home grown produce. We ate nothing but fresh, seasonal meat, fish, fruit and veg at every meal. There were also delis filled to the brim with nothing but local ingredients. One deli in particular we visited, the owner was passionate and knowledgeable about his products beyond what I have ever experience in the UK. He even produced his own fabulous cheese at the back of the shop. No one will perhaps be surprised that the food we ate was, without exception, grown in Italy (could a tourist to the UK say the same?). But what really took us aback was the quantity and range of stuff in shops that was stamped ‘made in Italy’.

While we wanted to leave it all behind for a week, our habit of picking stuff up and looking where it was made stuck with us throughout our trip. And it felt like everything we looked at was proudly emblazoned with the made in Italy stamp. From toiletries to clothing and from playing cards to hair dryers they were all made domestically. It certainly became clear to us that the Italians have not given up on, or casually sold off, their manufacturing as we have. One of the big surprises for us was going into a toyshop to buy Lucan a gift, him falling in love with a plastic model boat and it having the words made in Italy on impressed on the bottom. I challenge you to go into any high street toyshop in the UK and find anything made in Britain. You will be looking a very long time I assure you.

Of course the high street on Ischia still had a great number of Far Eastern imports but I would say they were outnumbered 2-1 by Italian made products. This is a startling contrast to UK high streets where perhaps less than 1% of anything you find will be British made. This seems to be fulled by a consumer demand and passion for Italian made, or Italian grown, products.  A mindset that is lacking in the majority of the British population. It has always been our contention that it would be consumer demand that would drive the manufacturing revolution here in the UK. Our trip to Italy has reaffirmed this to us.

Back from Italy refreshed an energised we are more keen than ever to get the UK buying British.

– James


  1. Terry Sullivan says

    The Italians are passionate about and love their country. They have a real sense of community & identity and I feel this reflected in the quality of both their produce & manufactuing. We are fans of Smeg because the products are so well made & long lasting-had our 50’s fridge for more than 12 years without a single problem. However even here, some of their smaller electrical items are now made in China! By the way; soooo jealous-Ischia!!!!!

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  2. James, you are absolutely spot on ! Its great to see the big international supermarkets even promoting the local products.
    From an exporters point of view you did not mention they don’t like the “made in China” label. However they love the quintessential British style, Royal Family, British quality. So things like Brogues, Winsor & Newton paints, Aquascutum coats, Land Rover all have those aspirational British looks , class, style have got opportunities – which can be exploited. Understand their thinking and you can crack that market.
    Gilio Moscardini

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  3. Polly Brooms says

    I am sorry to say I have not read any of your informative posts for a few years now (shame on me and to my detriment) but I’m still checking the’ Made In’ label and refused to buy certain items made in the Far East but unfortunately if it is something I desperately need I give in :-(. I do not mind buying items with Made in the EU now, as I tried to follow your Made in UK for the same length of time as yourselves. I still always jump for joy if anything is made in the UK and I buy it there and then.

    Going back to your holiday in Italy, we had the same experience, I kept looking for where items were made. I came home with a Italian made kitchen mat, and I love it. We went shopping at a local flea market so came back with homemade terracotta wine coolers and a painted cigarette dish (although we do not smoke!). It was the fact it was made in the country we were visiting that we kept the same mind set and was more than happy to buy the products as it we were in the UK… so well done the Bradshaws for thinking that way.

    I will endeavour to catch up on two years worth of reading….wish me luck!

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    • Congratulations in youe own efforts to buy British. I would not beat yourselfup on having to buy imports. That is, afterall, the world we live in.

      It is clear that the Italians have far more respect for thier own produce. That is why it is such a wonderful experience going there. They are truly passionate about it.

      Good luck with catching up on the last couple of years. To us it has been like a blur.


      James & Emily

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