Florence can easily blow the competition away when it comes to shopping. Whether you are on a leisurely luxury tour of Italy or a city break, doing a spot of shopping in Florence is an essential part of Italian experience.
Florence is famous for its antique shops. Here you can find objets d’art from the 16th century, stunning pieces of Renaissance art, centuries-old furniture and other costly rarities and collectors’ items. Via Maggio and the nearby streets in the Oltrarno are where the best antique dealers can be found. At Piazza Ciompi’s famous flea market and antique furniture shops around it you might be able to strike a bargain.
For luxury tours of Italy: best shopping in Florence Via Tornabuoni is a heaven for Italian fashion lovers. Three big native Florentine brands Emilio Pucci, Roberto Cavalli and Salvatore Feragamo have their luxury boutiques there. Other famous Italian brands such as Prada, Gucci, Bulgari and Armani can also be found on this street. Via Tornabuoni used to be a noble residential area since the 14th century and descendants of some aristocratic families still live in the opulent palazzi along the street.
How about a perfume, soap or herbal cosmetics from the Antica Officina di Santa Maria Novella, one of the world’s oldest pharmacy? It opened in 1612 and supplied many aristocrats, including de’Medici, with aromatic concoctions. They still use the same recipes for essences and perfumes as 400 years ago!
On the Ponte Vecchio you can shop to your heart’s content for exquisite traditional coral and gold jewelry. Most of the business here are family run and goldsmith traditions have been passed down from generation to generation.
And, naturally, the staple of Florentine shopping is leather. Via San Giuseppe will bring you the Leather school of Florence where you can buy high quality expensive leather goods and see artisans at work.
Remember that small artisan and boutique stores usually close for lunch between 12.30 and 3.30pm. Smaller shops are also closed on Sundays and on a Monday morning.
Photos by: Kotomi, Josh Friedman, Antica Officina di Santa Maria Novella