Florence is a haven for shopping, from leather goods in the markets, to big name designers, to outlet stores and some of the best food and wine in Italy. Here are some tips for finding just what you’re looking for, getting the right price and bringing it home.
Florence has birthed many a fashion icon, including shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Pucci, Roberto Cavalli and Patrizia Pepe. You can head to their stores in the historic center or to the department store La Rinascente, near the Mercato Nuovo (New Market), which has a great fashion section. There are also two museums of fashion in Florence: Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, Piazza Santa Trinita, 5 and the Galleria del Costume at the Pitti Palace.
San Lorenzo Market is the one to head to for leather goods, souvenirs, scarves, hats and more. It fills the streets around San Lorenzo church and the Medici Chapel. The stall keepers are wonderfully charming and expect you to bargain. Mercato dell Pulci (Piazza di Ciompi) is the city’s daily flea market and is great for a bargain.
This is the hot ticket in town with prices often around half that of retail but you’ll work for it! Getting to SPACE is no easy task. It’s on the outskirts of Florence and you’ll need to catch a train to Montevarchi then get a cab – all the drivers know it if you just say Prada. Once there take a ticket (one each) and await your turn to enter the treasure cave. It’s open Monday through Saturday plus Sunday afternoon. Leave plenty of time for your visit. Alternatively, you can prebook a Florence Shopping Tour, which will take you all the way there by coach.
Food and Wine
Tuscany is renowned for its food and wine and you might want to take some home with you or even cook for yourself while in town. Florence’s best food market, Mercato Centrale is located in the building just behind the stalls of San Lorenzo and has wine, dried pasta, olive oil, truffles – enough to make your mouth water.
The Ponte Vecchio has been famous for its goldsmiths for centuries. Browse these small artisan shops for special gifts or for yourself.
If you spend over about 185 euro you can claim back the tax on your purchases when you leave Italy. Ask at the stores for the paperwork, fill it in and present it to the desk at the airport. They might also want to see the goods and check they are unused. Leave enough time as there are often queues.