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There’s no better way to cool down on the streets of Madrid in summer than by flicking out your fan and doing the job yourself. Fans (abanicos in Spanish) have long been a staple Spanish accessory, and many Spanish women continue to use them today. Madrid’s Casa del Diego has been making beautiful handmade fans since 1823 in all sorts of different colours and patterns.
If the violet flower is the flower of Madrid then these violet-flavoured treats are surely the city’s most beloved sweet. The shop La Violeta has been selling wonderfully packaged violet sweets for decades. Madrileños typically buy them as gifts, whether for a First Holy Communion or a birthday, so they make an ideal present to take home for loved ones from Madrid.
Spain is known for its rich tradition of making ceramics, and one of the best things about visiting Madrid is that you can find products from all around the country. Shops like Ceramica Cantaro and Antigua Casa Talavera, just behind Gran Vía, stock a great range of products, from jugs and plates to mugs, egg cups and vases.
These rope-soled summer shoes were once the footwear of the working classes, but in the mid-20th century became a fashion staple. There are espadrille shops dotted around the city and you can pick up a simple pair for under €10. Casa Hernanz, just off the Plaza Mayor, has been making espadrilles and other rope products since 1840. Get there early in summer months because queues out the door are usual.
Spain might be famous for its paella and sangria but what Spaniards really adore is Jamón Ibérico – Iberian cured ham. This is the finest Spanish ham – it comes from pigs that have been raised eating only acorns and who have been allowed to roam freely in the countryside. Visitors can buy vacuum-packed ham that can easily be taken home and enjoyed as part of a post-holiday tapas evening. There are ham shops dotted around the city, or supermarkets (such as the one in the basement of the Corte Inglés department store) also sell jamón.
You might have a flamenco show on your list of activities in Madrid so why not buy some flamenco-related accessories to take home? Flamenco dancers are known for their glamour, so a flamenco shawl, flower for your hair or even some flamenco shoes could make the ultimate memento from Madrid.
Football fans will be spoilt for choice for merchandise in Madrid. Most tourist shops sell scarves, hats, mugs, key rings and more, baring the logos of the city’s two main teams: Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Both teams also have official shops in the city where you can pick up football shirts and official team merchandise.
What was once a drink favoured by – shall we say – Madrid older residents, has become the coolest aperitif in the city in recent years. Many new vermouth companies have been founded and you can pick up some tasty stuff for under a tenner. Shops like Los Ferreros, just off Plaza Mayor sell the traditional stuff, made in Madrid.