Friday, February 1, 2013

Shopping in Florence

Who doesn't like to go shopping?

Sales window at a shop in Florence
Well, actually, I don't really enjoy shopping all that much.  I'm a bit of a tight-wad when it comes to parting with my money.  But I do enjoy window shopping and seeing what's out there.  Florence doesn't fail to deliver as far as shopping is concerned.  The city is filled with all sorts of shops and markets selling everything from food to clothing to souvenirs and everything in between.

Ferragamo shoes on display
Are you a fan of high fashion?  If so, you'll want to visit Via Tornabuoni.  Ferragamo, Bulgari, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, and Prada are a few of the names you will see lining this famous street.  If you have a huge budget, this is for you.  If not, don't worry...window shopping is free!

For those of us who don't have that much money to burn, there are other shops around town where you can find clothing that won't break the bank.  Chain stores, such as the department store Coin on Via dei Calzaiuoli, are easily found around town.  Smaller, independent places can be much more fun to shop at, in my opinion, and are located all over town.

Markets are a lot of fun to visit and you can often find great bargains.  The Mercato Nuovo, located under the Loggia del Porcellino, is open every day (except for some holidays) from 9am until 8pm between the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November (and is open the rest of the year from 9am until 7:30pm).  The Mercato di San Lorenzo, located in the Piazza San Lorenzo, is open from 9am to 7pm.  Other markets pop up now and then around town, just keep your eyes open.

Mercato Nuovo at the Loggia del Porcellino
You can find just about anything you would want at a market.  Leather goods are one of the most popular items, due to the fact that the area is known for their exquisite leather goods.  Bags, purses, jackets, wallets, belts, leather covered journals...all can be found at markets or at the many leather shops around town.  (Note:  the majority of leather shops can be found in the area of Santa Croce.)

What are some other popular things to buy in Florence?  Here's a list of things that Florence is known for:

  • Florentine paper - these are very ornate, gorgeous papers.  There are stationary shops around town, especially near the Duomo.
  • Pinocchio - The Adventures of Pinocchio was written by Carlo Collodi, a native fiorentino, so it's no wonder this wooden fellow is pretty popular around town.
  • Ceramics - plates, platters, mugs, vases and more can be found at these shops, primarily found in the area just north of the Ponte Vecchio.
  • Souvenirs - t-shirts, key chains, postcards, miniature replicas of the statue can find these and many more (sometimes strange) items in shops and markets just about everywhere.

Jewelry shopping on the Ponte Vecchio
And, of  You can find jewelry shops all over the city, but the most famous are the ones located on the Ponte Vecchio.  Granted, most of the jewelry at these shops is very expensive (in my opinion), but there is something extremely special about knowing that the ring, bracelet, necklace, etc, that you are wearing was purchased on one of the most famous bridges in the world!

And how can I forget food?  Or wine?  There are plenty of shops around town where you can find locally produced foods and wines that you can buy and enjoy while you are in town, or to take back home with you.  US citizens, please note that you are not allowed to bring back to the US any meat products, so if you buy some sausage, make sure you eat it before you leave!  (Check with the US Customs website to find out what you can and can't bring back with you.)

Pastas and oils for sale at a shop specializing in Tuscan foods
Shopping in Florence can be a lot of fun, especially when you are looking for souvenirs to bring home to friends and family.  Don't forget to buy yourself something nice too!

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