Via della Vigna Nuova 48r, Tel: (055) 218975. The Alinari brothers put together one of the largest historic photo archives in Italy and you’ll find prints and books for sale, as well as a constantly-changing photo exhibit. An antique print of Florence would make a wonderful present for a special somebody.
Via Tornabuoni 27r, Tel: (055) 213737. Allegri is a factory that specializes in fashionable raincoats. I’ve been using a padded micro-fibre eggplant-colored mid-calf coat so long it’s become my security blanket.
Borgo S. Jacopo 82r-78r, Tel: (055) 212972. This is the place to go for imaginative costume jewelry at the right price. The inexpensive heart earrings make great take-home presents, Next door Angela has a boutique where she sells simply-designed but well-made clothes to go with her accessories.
Antica Farmacia Santa Maria Novella
Via del Escala 16, 50123, Tel: (055) 216276. Located in a former church, this isn’t a real pharmacy for drugs but rather a place with a wonderful old-fashioned atmosphere and products of their own production including a very pungent wet pot-pourri and the best lily of the valley essence I’ve ever found.
Antico Setificio Fiorentino
Via Bartolino 4, Tel: (055) 212861, open Monday to Friday 9 to 13, 14 to 17. This is the kind of shop worth visiting even if you have no attention of buying, the name translate to “Old Florentine Silk Factory” and some precious fabrics are made on looms that were designed centuries ago. The walls are lined with bolts of silk in every color, most of today’s fabrics are based on traditional designs.
Via Tornabuoni 48r, 50123, Tel: (055) 287779. This is a traditional shop specializing in leather goods, for those who want quality but don’t care if there’s a well-known name attached. See their shoes, bags, and belts as well as suits, coats, cashmere sweaters and silk scarves.
Via Tornabuoni 9, 50123. Bulgari is Bulgari, what more can we say? Don’t be intimidated, they even sell simple wedding bands for what you’ll pay at the ordinary no-name jewellry shop, athough in Florence the goldsmith tradition is strong and it’s hard to go wrong. Admire the windows, at least.
Via del Sole 37r, 50123, Tel: (055) 252533. Luxury leather goods and accessories, rather unusual, for individuals who are not slaves to brand names. They also make to order.
Via della Viagna Nuova 77r, 50134, Tel: (055) 211553 – 499940. For the biggest selection of the Cole-Haan line (known to Americans) it’s worth a visit, and since all the leather moccasins and shoes for men and women are made in Italy, the prices are about 1/3 less than in the United States. The woven handbags are nice too.
Palazzo Pucci, Via dei Pucci 6 – Via Ricasoli 20, Tel: (055) 283061. The beloved Marchese is no more, but his daughter Laudomia carries on the tradition of the man who gave women back their bodies and revolutionized fashion. Did you know that Marilyn Monroe asked to be buried in her favorite Pucci dress? Now that the intricate brightly-colored patterns are back in fashion, it’s a crime not to leave Florence without at least one item, even if it’s a cotton scarf.
Via Faenza 23-25r, Tel: (055) 282058 is full of fabrics, cushions, towels, lampshades, baskets, and ceramics, many of them coordinated in patterns from Provence, unusuam home furnishings.
Via Tornabuoni 81/r. Tel: (055) 211263 and Via Della Vigna Nuova 27/29, Tel: (055) 2381769. Enrico may be gone to a better world but his sister Sylvia has continued in his tradition of fun, brightly-colored clothes with a good cut and a touch of humor.
Erboristeria Palazzo Vecchio
Via Vacchereccia 9r (Piazza Signoria) 50122, Tel: (055) 296055. For those who just love natural products and herbs and all that good stuff this shop is a find. A variety of soaps from violet and vitamin E, lettuce and collagen, oil of almond plus what germ plus vitamin E – hair products including shampoo with ginseng and collagen for delicate hair, wooden brushes, every kind of face cream, cucumber cleaning lotion, and non-chemical mosquito repellent. Ask for the descriptive folder.
Via Tornabuoni 24r, 50123, Tel: (055) 215506 One of Florence’s most traditional jewellers.
Via Tornabuoni 12-16r, 50137, Tel: (055) 43951 The flagship store of the family, with a large selection of shoes, handbags, briefcases, belts, and other leatherware as well as men’s and women’s clothes and some of the most beautiful neckties you’ll find anywhere. Sig. Ferragamo was making shoes to measure in Hollywood for the stars back in the thirties, the first of a long line of made-in-Italy names to come. The anchor of Via Tornabuoni, Florence’s toniest shopping street. Call ahead to arrange to visit the Ferragamo museum, a treasure trove and tribute to the artistic creation of the great Florentine shoemaker, Salvatore Ferragamo. Open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9am to 1 and 2 pm to 6 pm. Closed all fo August and from December 25 to January 7. No more than 30 people can visit the museum at one time.
Borgo degli Albrizzi 70r, Tel: (055) 2347398. The late architect, whose son also runs a shop in Milan, loved to decorate objects including lampshades and umbrella stands in black and white turn-of-the century prints including Gibson Girl-like faces. There are small objects that make wonderful take-home gifts.
Ponte Vecchio 23, 50125, Tel: (055) 294768. One of the nicest of the traditional jewelery shops on the famous bridge spanning the Arno river, the grand-daughters of the founder carry on the tradition. A gold charm from their collection makes a wonderful souvenir.
Via della Vigna Nuova 28/r, Tel: (055) 282779. The Furlanetto family has been making bags for over 80 years and owns 18 boutiques throughout Italy. Their specialty is a brushed-leather backpack, but you’ll find designs for all tastes here.
Borgo Ognissanti 2r, 50123, Tel: (055) 295338. For those who love traditional old-fashioned lingerie and night wear, along with made-to-order embroidered christening dresses, don’t pass up a visit to this shop where they do their own hand-work.
Via Tornabuoni 73r, 50123, Tel: (055) 264011. The flagship store and headquarters for the world-wide Gucci empire, worth a visit to see what these master retailers are up to these days. American Tom Ford has put Gucci into the cutting edge of fashion, but the tourists still line up to buy the traditional pigskin wallets and belts.
House of Florence
Via Tornabuoni 6, 50123 Tel (055) 230 2610 Ironically, the shop is located across the street from the lagship Gucci store, but Roberto Gucci, grandson of Guccio Gucci the founder of the House of Gucci is on his own here, with a classic, beautifully-crafted line of leather goods designed by his wife Drusilla Caffarelli Gucci. Be sure to check out the amusing line of elephant bags created by Drusilla. Expensive but made in the traditional manner.
Libreria il Viaggio
Borgo degli Albrizzi 41r, Tel: (055) 240489 (also fax), is where you’ll find guidebooks to cities and countries all over the world as well maps and travel accessories.
Via Domenico Burchiello 10, 50124, Tel: (055) 2298371 fax: 229416. This is not a shop but rather a laboratory specializing in glass where collectors take their precious pieces that need repairs. You’ll also find a few unique gift items.
Luisa Via Roma
Via Roma 29-21r, 50100, Tel: (055) 217826, is an institution for chic Florentine women. The owner travels all over the world looking for the best ideas to bring back to his customers and has trained the expert staff to help them put together outfits that are trendy and elegant at the same time. You’ll find the house brand of clothes at Luisa Il Corso, Via del Corso 56.
Via Calzaiuoli 31/r, Tel: (055) 293360. One of the lines from Max Mara, classic, chic clothes for women in larger sizes.
Via del Corso 46 (women) and 71 (men), 50100, Tel: (055) 212018. Country clothes for rough-city wear.
Lungarno Corsini 36r, Tel: (055) 214414 for original mirrors and picture frames.
Via Tornabuoni 75/r, Tel: (055) 211605. This is Italy’s most prestigious stationery store. The beautifully finished paper in luscious colors would inspire anyone to write letters (with a fountain pen, of course), they also carry small lether goods and custom-made perfume by Lorenzo Villoresi.
Via de’ Pucci 43, Tel: (055) 293284. Three sisters, Luciana, Cecilia, and Cristiana, run this boutique for women featuring fun, colorful clothes and accessories of their own design and production. For all ages, featuring trapeze dresses, amusing hats, many made with original patchwork fabrics. Something different for those not slaves to the big names. Good value.
Via Tornabuoni 17r, 50123, Tel: (055) 214056. Don’t miss this store, Redwall is the company that makes handbags and accessories under license for such names as Moschino, Giorgio Armani, Romeo Gigli and Borbonese.