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Torre del Greco, Italy
This town, seven miles west of Pompeii on the autoroute N18, is the world capital of cameo and coral carving. Many of the factories offer strictly bus-tour-quality goods, but the two establishments below are the exceptions that prove the rule.
Basilio Liverino, a 106-year-old firm, is known for the finest Asiatic and Mediterranean coral and for its cameos made from carnelian, a Madagascan shell, and sardonyx, a milky, translucent variety of quartz. An index of quality: Liverino usually sells only to jewelers such as Bulgari, but will see serious shoppers by appointment (39-081-881-1225).
On the premises is a museum of corals and cameos, considered the world's best. Hours: 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2:30-6 p.m. 61 Via Montedoro.
At Giovanni Apa ignore the tour buses and ask for Bruno Gioia, who speaks English and will show you the firm's collection of antique cameos and coral pieces, which are considered the finest to be had anywhere. 1 Via E. De Nicola; 39-081-881-1155.