Alpaca woolens are not expensive, but visitors get better value in artisans’ markets than in shops. The most authentic markets are found in Quechua towns like Cusco.
The market surrounding the Machu Picchu train station is comparable to Cusco’s. But for the best selection and prices, many Peru shoppers make a pilgrimage to the sprawling Sunday markets in Pisac and Chinchero, both an hour from Cusco.
Vendors are used to bargaining; ask the price and offer a lowball alternative. Trading is cash-only in Peruvian soles, which hover around 3 to the U.S. dollar.
Tiny cotton sacks of flavorful salt from the ancient salt mines at Maras, widely available for about a buck, make unusual, inexpensive souvenirs of your Peru visit.
Shopping for a gaily woven wool hat or a luscious alpaca scarf will cost well under $10, a pretty wool-felt shoulderbag strewn with knitted flowers under $25. Velvety “baby alpaca” wool and Peruvian designer labels cost more.
Further up the retail shopping scale is silver jewelry. Peru is the world’s largest exporter of plata, and silversmithing is an art form. Ilaria’s dozen Lima boutiques (including a convenient airport branch) stock designs by Ilaria Ciabatti, a Florentine who found her muse in Peru.