Excited for your upcoming trip to Italy? Finally getting that Italian vacation you’ve been dreaming of? If that’s the case, then there’s a very high probability that one of your stops will be in the picturesque city of Florence. Considered as one of the most beautiful cities in the Tuscan region and the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, this city has much to offer. We’re not just talking about art, culture, and history, but it also has a plethora options when it comes to shopping! You heard it right! Florence has tons of boutiques, stores, open-air markets, and artisan shops, so the opportunities for a good shopping spree are endless.
However, no self-respecting shopping champion would leave such a special place like Florence without picking up a fitting souvenir, right? While we associate Murano with glassware, and Burano with lace, Florence, too, has its quintessential goods. So if it really comes down to it and you REALLY had to buy only the essential items that you won’t be able to get anywhere else, here are the four things to buy on your vacation in Florence!
If for some reason you were forced to pick just ONE item from Florence to bring home with you, leather goods would be it. Whether it’s wallets, purses, belts, shoes, or gloves, if you’re talking about Italian leather, you’re talking about Florence. Leather goods can be found just about everywhere in in this city, from stalls on the street, to the public market, to high-end boutiques. In fact, many a traveler has even remarked that even the very air of Florence carries the distinct scent of leather.
When purchasing leather, there are a few important things to note in order to make sure that you’re buying the real thing. For example, check linings and tags of any leather product meticulously, and take careful note of the quality. It may be pretty, and some sellers may claim that it’s made of genuine Italian leather, but you really wouldn’t want to go all the way to Italy for this purchase, only to come back and discover later on that it’s actually vinyl and has a Made in China tag!
Next, make sure that you are checking the item that you will actually be paying for and walking out of the store with. If a specific item is sealed in plastic or bagged, ask to have it opened so you can actually hold it and check it. Don’t settle for inspecting a similar-looking sample.
If you really want the good stuff and you really want to be sure about authenticity, it might be a good idea to visit one of the many artisan shops and leather factories in the city. These establishments are normally owned and run by master craftsmen who manufacture their goods in the traditional methods and to the highest standards. You might even be able to get your items customized or custom-fitted, which is a treat when it comes to shoes and gloves. It may cost a little extra, but know with confidence that you’ll be paying for quality.
Another item that you might want to buy in Florence would be gold jewelry. Most shops sell pieces made of 18k gold (as opposed to the usual 14k in the US) embellished with delicate designs and crafted with a high level of skill. This is particularly true for pieces that were personally made by master jewelers and goldsmiths who operate from the artisan shops. In fact, some of the jewelers in the area are well-known for their work, and produce items which some have considered as works of art.
As with any instance of purchasing jewelry, though, don’t be afraid to take a look at all of your options and feel free to window shop and ask questions. More often than not, a shop’s inventory is displayed right at the window, and you’re welcome to ask the shop owner or clerk to inspect it, if you wish. Most of the time, they would be happy to accommodate any type of question about the item you may have, and may even accommodate requests for small adjustments, sometimes even for free!
If you’re unsure about a piece you’re looking at or the deal you’re being offered, go ahead and take a walk down the street and check out other shops and vendors, several times if necessary. In fact, if you’re staying in Florence or somewhere nearby for the night, it might even be a good idea to sleep on it or research your options even further. Basically, don’t be afraid to take your time and go through all possible options in the area until you find one that you are completely satisfied with.
Paper may be a little less popular when compared to jewelry and leather goods, but the fact is that some of the finest stationery can be bought in Florence. For lovers of paper, the streets of this city is a dream come true, as stationers are ubiquitous and almost every street has a stationery store that caries gorgeous Florentine paper products.
In Florence, you will be able to find some top-notch stores that carry high quality items that range from notecards, loose sheets, journals, wrapping paper, portfolios, and sketchbooks, each one in gorgeous patterns and colors, and various textures and weights. Most of these items also carry Florentine designs and motifs inspired by the Renaissance. While shopping for stationery here, remember to also pick up some of the marbled paper that Florence is famous for. These are usually created through a marbling process that has been in use since the 1500s, and though the technique is centuries old, the end products still remain vibrant and exciting.
Take note that some stationers in the area even accept watermarking and engraving jobs to personalize your stationery, so don’t be afraid to ask!
You’re already in the heart of Tuscany, so you might as well bring back home some of that beautiful Tuscan wine. Whether it’s a bottle of the classic Chianti, the hearty Brunello, or an amazing Supertuscan, make sure to bring home a taste of Florence back with you.
You can purchase wine just about anywhere within the city of Florence, but if you really want to get the best wine experience from your trip, try going on one of the local wine tours where you will be treated to a day of tasting glasses and glasses of beautiful wines. These tours usually come with meat and cheese platters to pair with the wines you will be sampling, and some even offer complete dinners or lunches! It’s a great opportunity to enjoy the Florentine countryside, with good company, good food, and best of all, good wine.
After the tasting, the meals, and the vineyard tours, you are more than welcome to purchase a bottle or three of whatever flavor may have caught your fancy that day, straight from the winery. Even if nobody’s asking if you would like to buy a bottle, you can always ask, and we’re sure that the winery owner will be happy that you did!
So remember: when you finally embark on your Italy vacation and you happen to be dropping by Florence, feel free to shop around and bring back home some of these must-buy items in Florence!
(PS. In case you’re planning on hitting the beach after all that shopping, remember to grab a FREE copy of our latest eBook about the hottest Italian beaches to visit! Ciao! )