Between the markets scattered across the city and the assortment of eye-popping luxury and boutique shops, you’ll be well served by the Florence shopping options.
Markets vary wildly offering staples and cheap stuff you can find in any strip mall and dollar store in the world to jewelry at heart attack prices. The shops are more specific, and more expensive, but this is where you’ll find the unique and memorable items you had in mind when you raised your credit card limit in anticipation of your trip to Italy.
Below is just a sampling of what’s available. After all, sometimes shopping is about the hunt, right?
The Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s oldest bridge, has a lot going on. It’s one of Italy’s most famous landmarks, it’s photo-worthy from any angle, and one can also shop (usually window shop) at impossibly small stores, mainly featuring upscale jewelry and art.
Walk about four blocks due north from Ponte Vacchio and you’ll collide with Mercato Nuovo. The “new market” dates from the 16th century and its items include cheap (often Chinese-made) souvenirs, leather goods, and seasonal flowers. One of Florence’s top selfie ops is here, too: the bronze Piglet Fountain (Fontana del Porcellino), on the south side, which dates from the 17th century.
Another 10-12 minutes due north is Mercato de San Lorenzo, a bonanza of clothing and accessories, that ranges from cheap and shabby to genuinely nice stuff.
Around the corner from the train station is Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica, a Renaissance-era perfume pharmacy that decidedly looks the part. A variety of potions purport to cure ailments such as hysterics and joint pain, as well as assisting in weight loss are displayed in gorgeous, ancient-looking wooden display cases. The perfumes are in a more modern area sometimes resembling an alien chemistry set. A free museum goes into the history of perfumery/pharmacy.
Along busy Via del Parione is Il Bisonte. If you’ve got a thing for leather, and I mean the good stuff, this is the place to visit. They sell a variety of leather accessories, including briefcases, handbags, and notebooks.
Still in need of leather? Cross Ponte alla Carraia and check out Francesco, a tiny, family-owned place. They sell leather shoes and sandals for men and women.
Discriminating self-caterers should budget plenty and time and money for Olio & Convivium. One can outfit the most indulgent picnic ever at this delicatessen, with all manner of fancy and fragrant food. They also do a super daily lunch menu.
Still have space in the picnic basket? Head a minute or so east to Obsequium to peruse wine and swanky gourmet food, including truffles, cheese, salami and olive oils. There’s also a wine bar that does tastings.
Far afield on the east side of the historic center is La Bottega del Cioccolato, featuring prize-winning chocolate by chocolate artisan Andrea Bianchini. One of his passions is chocolate fusions, including ginger, mango, lemon, passionfruit and Szechuan pepper.
While heading back to the center, stop in at Vestri for even more chocolate and Florence’s best gelato. Chocolate items can be purchased for immediate consumption or to take home. The posted opening hours are more of a suggestion than a goal, so have a back-up plan should you find them unceremoniously closed.
If your sweet tooth has any cravings left you’ll have earned one last treat by walking almost back to the train station to visit Il Cantuccio di San Lorenzo and indulging in their super thick cookies and cakes. If you arrive early enough, you can watch the magic happen through the kitchen window.
If you ate all those treats without sharing with your beloved, you may want to do the looong walk of shame South of the Arno and a ways east to Alessandro Dari’s legendary, distinctive and creative jewelry shop for an apology gift. The showroom allows one to view the action in the workshop.
Best Gelato in Florence…take this ultimate getateria tour. You deserve it.
Florence Art Museum Crawl…start with the Ufizzi and it only gets better.
Florence South of the Arno River…after the Pitti Palace
Must-See Churches of Florence…history, art, architecture, cathedrals and bunch of saints.
Must-See Museums of Florence…prepare to be spoiled for the rest of your life.