Florence is famous for its shopping, mainly leather goods and food. If you’re in the market for a new bag, pair of gloves, coat, wallet, belt or shoes, this is the place to be. To get the bargains, head over to the San Lorenzo Market.
It’s not difficult to find; it lines the streets around the San Lorenzo Church and Medici Chapel. There is stall after stall of leather goods, hats, souvenirs and paper goods. And the service makes for half the fun. You’ll quickly get used to every stallholder trying to engage you in conversation – they’re not shy these flirty salesmen – and you have to remember that this is half the game. It’s a performance, and a sales technique. It’s worth bargaining – often the price you are first offered is inflated, so they can lower it and make you feel good. If you want a jacket or coat, many of the stalls are connected to shops just behind the market and they can do adjustments to sleeve lengths etc while you wait. The same applies to hat sizes. I bought a sun hat (it gets very hot and the sun is strong in Florence during summer) and the man adjusted the size for me, sent me off with a kiss to each cheek, then greeted me like an old friend every time I passed through the market for the rest of my stay.
Behind the chaos of the stalls is the food market. Head inside this building for wonderful fresh pastas, jars of local oils and truffle oils, olives, mushrooms – so many varieties of dried funghi! And naturally you can taste and buy local wines and cheeses. A smaller version of the leather and souvenir market is the Mercato Nuovo, which has a bronze statue of a wild pig; rub its nose to ensure you return to Florence one day.
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