The lovely Via de' Tornabuoni is situated right in the center of the centro storico, and is a shopping mecca for those who visit Florence. Named from the famous Tornabuoni family whose palace lines the street and is currently a private apartment complex. Via de' Tornabuoni was once the premier shopping street in the city, but recent development has forced many of the independently operated businesses out, i.e., Seeber International Bookstore, Doney's. Nearby is via della Vigna Vecchia, an off-shoot of Tornabuoni which leads down towards the Arno, which also has numerous swanky, luxurious shops. Nonetheless, many major shops line these two streets, such as Loro Piana, Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Emporio Armani and Tiffany's.
The Mercato Centrale is a lively hub of activity. The vast building has everything from restaurants to bars and local produce under one buzzing roof. From artisan breads and Italian meats to fresh flowers, seasonal fruits, local delicacies and craft brews, this market offers something for the gourmet to the night owl. Mozarella from Enrico Carretta, Christian Beduschi confectionery, Savigni family cold cuts, fresh fish from Paola and Maurizio, and fine wines from Fabrizio Bodini, you'll find it all here. With a line up of concerts and local events, Mercato Centrale is the place to experience the city's vibrant culture, firsthand.
The Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is one of the oldest cosmetic shops in Italy, founded by Dominican Monks in 1221 who used to prepare balms and ointments with the herbs of their official gardens. Still decorated with the old boiserie furniture and traditional apothecary ceramic vases, Officina sells cosmetic creams and preparations, delightful flowered perfumes, scented soap bars, a great number of herbalist products and various liqueurs. Take a piece of living history home, as everything is made strictly according to the old traditional recipes of Dominican Monks. The potpourri, a mixture of herbs and flowers from the Florentine hills, is a must-have!
In the historic city center of Florence, Scuola del Cuoio allures shoppers with some of the most exquisite leather pieces crafted to perfection. Occupying the premises of the imposing Santa Croce abbey, the leather shop was established by the city's noted Casini and Gori families. In the bygone era, victims of World War I were offered lessons in leather making at Scuola. The shop's inviting interiors feature art works by noted artists like Domenico Ghirlandaio, thus creating a charming atmosphere where shoppers can have see how the talented craftsmen weave masterpieces in leather. Scuola also offers tours of their workshop, welcoming all those who wish to understand the process behind those extraordinary creations.
When you enter Caffè Gilli, it is worthwhile to ponder over the fact that you are surrounded by a two hundred year old legacy and all of it is still preserved. The recipes used to make the delicious coffees and unique confectioneries have hardly changed, but they have only adapted to the modern scenario over time. The cafe has a Victorian charm with wooden flooring and Murano glass chandeliers that define its interior. A look at the display section will leave you mesmerized as the assortment of desserts will spoil you with choices. From creamy pastries, Tiramisu, cakes to pies and more, everything here will make your palate sing.
Luisa Via Roma features brilliantly unusual garments and displays. On two floors, many small boutiques sell brands such as Moschino, Dolce & Gabbana, Donna Karan, Ozbek, Byblos, Jean-Paul Gaultier and many others. Besides the famous designer names, there are clothing and accessories exclusively designed by the owner of the boutique. Louisa has become one of the most exclusive addresses in Florence over the last few years, especially for people who want to stay one step ahead of the pack.
This is only outlet in Tuscany with a very large assortment of all the Lacoste collections, with their "little crocodile" which has been imitated the world over. For those who like to dress sportily, and others, Lacoste has become the symbol of practical fashion; a comfortable and elegant way of dressing in one's free time.
This is the oldest children's clothes shop in Florence. Founded in 1912, it is located in the fifteenth century Palazza Ricasoli. Here, expert craftswomen create clothes made by hand having embroidery and smocking, using the most natural fabrics. You can buy elegant and precious clothes for children of both sexes and babies. They sell suits, dresses and complete outfits, as well as offering an online internet shopping service.
Visit this store if you are planning to decorate your home with attractive and artistic frames. Studio Puck's frames are made from solid wood and each one is custom-made and hand-polished using traditional artisan methods. Expert painters and designers work on the smallest details to create the right blend of traditional and contemporary elements. Walk in and pick up some beautiful pieces for your drawing room. Apart from selling a variety of paintings with different themes, the store also takes on large scale-contracts for hotels and large venues.
This is the place to shop for anything dedicated to Florence's most renowned piece of artwork -- David. Located around the corner from the Galleria dell'Accademia, find absolutely anything with the David image screened onto it. Looking for David boxer shorts? Apron? Statue? Pasta bowl? Inflatable pool toy? You can find it here. Prices are reasonable, especially for touristy, kitschy souvenirs.
It is quite rare to find a shop not dealing with fashion in this area but The Blue Shop was established in 1903 and has always remained a family-owned business. It takes its name from the wooden, blue-colored store windows. It is considered a shop of historic town interest and was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. The dark and gilded boiserie maintained the old fashion atmosphere of the place while the blue walls are covered by a vast array of wooden frames. Most of them are hand made and encrusted with precious woods. They also sell antique engravings, prints (many of them depicting town's views), wooden boxes, triptychs and beautiful table lamps. -Maria Frullini
Via Maggio is an austere yet sumptuous street just around the corner from lively Piazza Santo Spirito. The street is dominated by Renaissance noble buildings. Among them the most imposing one is the Palace of Bianca Cappello, lover and then wife of the Grand Duke Francesco I de Medici. The main front is richly decorated with black and white grotesquerie and with the image of a hat, symbol of the family, on the door. (Cappello = hat) Via Maggio, once called Via Maggiore (Main Street), is nowadays the home of several among the most important Italian antique dealers and art galleries. Art merchants are trading in all kind of antiques from delicate china figurines to huge marble or stone statues, from renaissance paintings on wooden panels to magnificent baroque tapestries. Some of them are specialized in antique furniture, usually restored by the skilled artisans working in their laboratories in the alleys nearby. Besides all these pieces of art on display, there is a shop window that really catches the eye: it is a home made pastry and chocolate store! Go there, if you feel ready for a snack and have a sweet tooth. Otherwise head to Piazza Santo Spirito where you'll find a choice of cafés, pizzerie and restaurants. - Maria Frullini