(Florence, Tuscany, Italy)
Florence is without doubt the one of the main centres for shopping in Italy and the numerous districts provide a shopper's paradise. Whether you are looking for high fashion, antiques, furniture or home accessories, rest assured that shopping in Florence, Italy, will provide you with a huge choice.
Florence is renowned for its pride in craftsmanship and if you want to see real craftsmen at work, simply wander around the Piazza Santa Spirito or any other of the narrow streets of the Oltrarno, the part of Florence that stands on the south side of the river. You can also admire the wonderful monuments, statues and fountains as you walk downtown for some serious Florence shopping.
Florence shops are generally open from 09:00 to 13:00 and from 15:30 or 16:00 to 19:00 or 20:00, although many of the bigger shops in Florence now open all day. On Saturday shops tend to close earlier at around 17:30 and only a few open on Sundays. Also, many shops in Florence do not open on Monday morning. There is usually late-night shopping every week on Thursdays.
Antiques in Florence
There are many antique shops in Florence, which specialise in a wide range of goods, including both genuine antiques and some reproductions in marble and bronze. Renaissance Florence invented the 'bottega' (workshop) system where the master would outline the project and then leave much of the detail to his capable apprentices. The borderline between a work of art and a copy or replica is not always clear, and so if you are not an antiques expert and are planning on spending a large amount of money, be sure that you know what you are purchasing.
Books, Prints and Art Paper in Florence
Guilo Giannini e Figlio, located at Piazza Pitti, makes and sells marbled paper, a speciality of Florence for more than 600 years. Parione at Via del Parione is well-known in Florence for selling this traditional marbled paper.
Florence has a large range of bookshops and for visitors who do not read Italian, the simply named BM, situated on the corner of Borgo Ognissanti and Piazza Goldoni, sells a large selection of guidebooks and books on local history in various languages, but mainly in English. Feltrinelli, in Via Cavour, also provides a good choice of foreign language books.
Clothes and Fashion in Florence
Florence is second only to Milan as a source of Italian high fashion and is also rated highly for its extensive range of leather goods. There are many top names in Italian design that reside in the city's most fashionable shopping street, Via de' Tornabuoni - including Versace, Gucci and Ferragamo and nearby in the surrounding streets such as Via della igna Nuova, Valentino, Armani and Pucci can be found. Other notable shops include Luisa, first choice for 'alta moda' (high fashion) at Via Roma and more affordable outlets, Max Mara at Via de' Pecori and Krizia in Piazza Strozzi.
More reasonably priced shops include Via de' Cerretani, Via del Corso, Via Roma and Via Calimala. Also worth a visit are the department stores Principe in Via degli Strozzi and Coin in Via dei Calzaiuoli. Upim, on Via Speziali (off Piazza della Repubblica) is slightly more down-market, but excellent for basic clothes and stylish accessories.
Leather Goods in Florence
Florence has literally hundreds of shops and market stalls that sell leather goods, such as shoes, coats, handbags, gloves and belts. For top quality craftsmanship you need to visit some of the best known outlets, such as Ferragamo and Gucci, located at Via de' Tornabuoni. Cellerini, in Via del Sole, is widely considered the best shop of its type in the city, specialising in everything from gloves to lizard-skin handbags, all of which are made on the premises.
Jewellery in Florence
Jewellers have had a major presence in Florence on the Ponte Vecchio for over 400 years. The shops on this bridge are still the most famous source of jewellery in Florence and offer an impressive range of high quality pieces. Shops include Melli, Piccini and Mannelli, which are some of the top names in Florence. Gold jewellery in particular is outstanding and is a legacy of Florence's long tradition of goldsmiths.