Sicily produces some of the most beautiful pottery in the world. It is different than the pottery that we see here in the southern part of the United States. Sicilian potterty is brighter and busier and you will be tempted to buy it when you see it.
Small pottery shops can be found all over Italy. When I visited Caltagirone, known as the capital of Sicilian pottery, pottery was everywhere. The steps in the heart of the city had pottery tiles embedded in them. There must have been 100 steps each with their own unique tiles. The dome of the church was made of pottery. The bridge had scenes depicted in pottery tiles. Houses had pottery sitting in the windows.
But not all the pottery you find in Sicily is made by Sicilians. This is a case of “buyer beware” and “you get what you pay for”. If you see something at an unbelievably low price then it has most likely been made in China. If you are spending a lot of money on something ask questions about how it was made and ask to see the shop. Many of the shopkeepers are somewhat conversant in English. If you are not satisfied with the answers you receive keep looking. Most of the small shops have a workroom attached so you know that at least the items were painted on site.
If you want a really special piece of Sicilian pottery and you are willing to pay the price do your research before you leave home. Many of the best artisans are not well known and you have to seek them out.
One other thing to remember. Check to make sure that the item you are buying can be brought into your country of origin. The United States government restricts the import (that means bringing it back with you on the plane) of certain ceramics. Some of the ceramics have a high lead content and these will be confiscated on arrival in the US. I believe that most of these items have a shiny glaze.
In the end, as long as what you are buying is sturdy enough to make the trip home and is safe, meaning no lead, the most important thing is that you buy something you like and will treasure. Buy something you can display so when you look at it you will be reminded of the color of the seas surrounding Sicily or the groves of almond trees or the peak of Mt. Etna visible above the clouds.