Practical and adorable gift ideas from one of Russia's most beautiful cities include something to suit every taste and budget
Petersburgers and expatriates offer advice on souvenirs you could give your family and friends from St. Petersburg this holiday season.
1. A Pendant from the Fabergé museum
Fabergé eggs are a symbol of Tsarist Russia and the luxurious lifestyle of the royal Romanov family. The first egg was presented by Emperor Alexander III to his wife, Maria Fyodorovna, on Easter in 1885. The Empress was so delighted with the gift that the House of Fabergé was granted the exclusive right to create Easter eggs for the court, which it held for the following 32 years. Alexander III and Nicholas II had such high confidence in the taste of the jewelers that they did not sign off on the designs in advance. Pendants replicating Easter masterpieces of the late 19th century are still popular in the third millennium. "They symbolize a return to the traditions of the Russian Empire, where such pendants were a common present," says Yekaterina Petukhova, PR Director of Fabergé Museum (21 Fontanka Embankment).
The most affordable pendants are massproduced items made from brass and cold enamel with prices ranging from 700 to 1,200 rubles (about $10–19). Silver and gold items manufactured with original House of Fabergé technology cost from 9,900 to 50,000 rubles ($150–770).
2. A telnyashka
A telnyashka is a knitted shirt, horizontally striped in blue and white. It was brought to Russia from Holland and became a part of the official naval uniform in 1874. Having been built as a port city and holding the title of the country's capital for 206 years, St. Petersburg became the home of the Russian telnyashka.Kyle Patching, a Canadian, has sent about 20 telnyashki shirts to his father over the 15 years he has been living in Russia. "My father Charles wears his large collection of telnyashki year round in various colors and weights,” he says. “Especially valued in a cold northern Canadian winter is the Navy heavyweight telnyashka, which is his favorite. Absolutely great gift!”
3. Souvenirs from local designers
"Foreign tourists like to buy our souvenirs with inscriptions in Russian because Cyrillic characters look exotic and mysterious to them," says Mikhail Ivanov, co-owner of Podpisnye Izdaniya bookstore (57 Liteyny Prospect). "We started making postcards and magnets three years ago, inviting young artist Sasha Pavlova to join our creative project and invent something fresh and modern. That's how these postcards were created: "In any baffling situation, fly to St. Petersburg" and "Keep calm and go to St. Petersburg," which is a reference to the famous British motivational poster."
Wooden badges with portraits of Dostoyevky, Chekhov, Nabokov and other famous Russian writers are also popular souvenirs from a city so closely linked with great literature. The badges are manufactured by the Waf-waf company in the center of St. Petersburg. Apart from collections inspired by Russia and traveling, there are collections by young local artists. Russian wooden badges have spread all over the world, from Iceland to the U.S.
Clothes by local designers are also worth attention – especially the SHU raincoat, which is the most practical gift on our list. It was invented by designer Andrei Kravtsov – after moving to St. Petersburg, he did his best to survive the city's whimsical climate, but every time, rain caught him by surprise.
4. Cups and plates by the Imperial Porcelain Factory
Founded in the mid-18th century by Empress Elizabeth, who was Peter the Great's daughter, the Imperial Factory became the chief supplier of porcelain to the court. In the 20th century the factory introduced its signature style, the whiteblue pattern called "Cobalt Net," which is still applied manually. According to experts, artist Anna Yatskevich invented it in 1945, inspired by the white paper stripes that were glued across the windows during the siege of Leningrad in 1941–44. Prices for a cup with a plate start from 1,000 rubles ($15).;