From fine stationery and artisan crafts to leather and gold, Florence is an ideal destination for the refined shopper. Following are some ideas of where to go to buy the best that Florence has to offer.
High Fashion and Mainstream Shopping in Florence
If you're looking for haute couture fashions, such as Gucci, Pucci, or Ferragamo (the latter two design houses being native to Florence), head to the area around the streets of Via Tornabuoni, Via della Vigna Nuova, and Via dei Calzaiuoli. These streets in the Santa Maria Novella district are teeming with the latest fashions from the biggest Italian and international designers.
For clothing, housewares, and other items affordable to mere mortals, check out the shops around the streets of Piazza della Repubblica, such as on Via Calimala. Here you'll find name brands like Zara and department stores like Rinascente.
Outdoor Flea Markets and Antiques in Florence
Outdoor markets are common all over Florence, with the most famous being the vendors in and around the Mercato Centrale in the San Lorenzo district. Inside the market, you will find fantastic food stalls, selling meats, cheeses, olives, breads, and countless goodies to fill up a picnic basket. Vendors of clothing, leather goods, ceramics, etc., reside in the stalls outside of the market. The Mercato Nuovo, near the Ponte Vecchio, is another place to look for discount finds and tourist trinkets. Across the Arno, Piazza Santo Spirito is the place to go for produce and other provisions as well as vintage clothing and accessories, antiques, jewelry, pottery, and more. The produce market is open daily except Sunday. An arts and crafts market operates here every second Sunday of the month. Further away from the tourist track, a weekly (Tuesdays) market operates at the Parco delle Cascine. The market is chock-a-block with vendors - around 300 - selling clothing, linens, housewares, antiques, and more. For a more local experience - and likely a better bargain - the Cascine Market is a good bet.
Florentine Specialty Items
Beyond designer duds and vintage finds, Florence is a great city in which to purchase unique gifts. For beautiful marbled stationery, visit Zecchi (Via dello Studio 19r) or Il Papiro (Piazza del Duomo 24r) in the San Giovanni neighborhood. Leather goods can be had all over the city, but the Santa Croce Leather Workshop, in the cloister of the church of Santa Croce, is the most famous place to find leather items, from jackets and belts to bookmarks. Another church in which you can find a sweet souvenir is Santa Maria Novella, where there is an apothecary that has been creating perfumes and aromatic oil blends since the 13th century. Gold is a classic item often searched for in Florence, most usually because of its traditional association with the Ponte Vecchio. Traverse Florence's most famous bridge, and you'll see gold sellers lining each side of it. Whether the gold here is a bargain is unclear, but you can find high quality, unique necklaces, earrings, bracelets, watches, rings, and more.