Where to go shopping in Florence
Shopping in Florence, has to be enjoyed on your legs, but especially using intellect. Because the shopping streets of Florence, have all developed their own precise business proposal, in line with a tradition that goes back for centuries. A very wide proposal, ranging from antiques to fashion and luxury, from leather, wood and glass crafts to ceramics and wrought iron works, from casual clothing to Tuscan foods. Each product category has its own area of expertise: knowing them can help you better prepare for a targeted shopping.
Luxury Shopping in Florence is in Via de’ Tornabuoni
The shops of high fashion and luxury goods in Florence are concentrated between Via della Vigna Nuova, Via de’ Tornabuoni and Via de’ Calzaiuoli. Here are the showrooms of the major Italian and international fashion designers. Via de’ Tornabuoni is widely regarded as salotto buono, and hosts the big names in fashion and jewelry. Via Tornabuoni is a noble residential area since 1300 and is still inhabited by the heirs of the Strozzi and the Antinori families. Very chic are also Via del Parione, with ateliers and workshops proposing unique tailoring items, and Via Roma, near the Duomo, with precious luxury boutiques.
Casual Shopping and Outlets
To shop casual and trendy, you may head towards the stores in the area between the Santa Maria Novella station and the Duomo. In Via dei Calzaiuoli, Via dei Cerretani, Via dei Banchi and along Via Calimala, you will find department stores like Coin, H&M, Zara and LaRinascente.
Over the years, many outlets have opened in the surroundings of Florence, such as that of Campi Bisenzio – towards Prato, Tuscany or The Mall in Reggello. Along the A1 motorway you will find the outlets of some major designers, including Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, La Perla and Yves Saint Laurent.
Antiques, Jewelry and Leather Goods
Anyone looking for antiques can move between Via dei Fossi – going up to Ponte alla Carraia – and Via Maggio – in Oltrarno, beyond the bridge at Santa Trinità. Here are the major antiques dealers in Florence, with unique pieces of Renaissance art, furniture and furnishings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, beautiful and expensive rarities. The jewels of the ancient Florentine tradition are on display in the windows of Ponte Vecchio. In these small shops you can find jewels of all types and prices, in gold and silver, with precious and semiprecious stones, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings produced by artisans who have been passing down their techniques for generations.
Florence’s most typical handicrafts are definitely leather goods. Shops selling leather goods in Florence are found mainly in Santa Croce and San Lorenzo districts. In Santa Croce you can visit the Leather School, adjacent to the Basilica of Santa Croce, where you can also see artisans at work. Bags, belts, hats, shoes, clothing and souvenir items as well as leather items can be purchased at the market of San Lorenzo, which is closed only on Sundays and Mondays.
A Stroll through the Craft Shops in Oltrarno
Those in seek of craftsmen at work, must absolutely cross the river and head towards the Oltrarno area. Here it’s more difficult to identify product category- areas, as shops have always opened to sell products of all kinds and all possible materials: glass, wood and iron items; tailored clothing and fabric shops; silverware and mosaics; restorers and bookbinders; workshops of brocades, silks and damasks. In the neighborhoods of Santo Spirito and San Frediano in Oltrarno, old and new signs invite visitors to enter, look, touch, admire and of course, to buy. The art of carvers, engravers, smiths, and tailors, is all there, before the eyes of those who crossed that threshold.
Walking around Florence’s Markets
Don’t miss Florence’s markets. Besides the above mentioned market of San Lorenzo, the kingdom of leather products, it is definitely worth visiting the Mercato Nuovo under the Loggia del Porcellino, near Ponte Vecchio. After rubbing the nose of the pig statue for good luck, get lost in the alleys of the market between workshops of Florentine craftsmanship, offering fine paper products, ceramics and leather. For the young, or just for fun, there is a daily Flea Market in Piazza dei Ciompi, where in addition to many amenities you can find great antiques. The “Mercato delle Cascine” is held along the Arno River on every Tuesday morning: here you will find clothing, textiles, footwear, but also food. At the Mercato Centrale (Central Market), near Piazza San Marco, especially food and gastronomy dominate the scene over two covered floors. Another indoor market, hosted in a building dating back to the late 1800s, with a magnificent cast iron roof, is the Market of Sant’Ambrogio, with groceries and household items. If you’re looking for ethnic crafts instead, you will find them every second Sunday of the month in Piazza Santo Spirito.