Florence is one of the most naturally stylish cities in Italy; after all, this was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Today, this translates into shops that feature centuries-old craftsmanship and those that showcase edgy international design stars and top local talent like Patrizia Pepe. Our favorite way to celebrate the rich Florentine history is to stroll the streets of Altarno and visit the artisanal shops that are still producing leather and paper goods much like they did centuries before. Those lucky enough to be in town the last Sunday of every month can enjoy a trip to the Mercato delle Pulci; Florence?s famed flea market. For a quick taste of both old and new, we suggest a visit to Boutique Nadine in the Ferragamo-owned hotel Lungarno; here you can shop the both new and vintage Italian fashion while gazing at the Ponte Vecchio.
Main photos courtesy of Fashionsquad.com, Flickr, Florenceforfree.wordpress.com, RaindropsofSapphire.com, The Sartorialist.com
Mercato delle ?Pulci?, Florence?s famous flea market, happens the last Sunday of each month. You?ll find real treasures and antique jewelry, vintage furniture, and artwork. Don?t forget to check out The Market of Rare Books and The Flower Market.
Mercato delle ?Pulci?: Piazza dei Ciompi, 50122 Firenze, Italy, 39 055 23320, open daily from 9am to 7:30pm. The Market of Rare Books: Loggia Del Grano, from Thursday to Saturday, from 10am to 6pm. The Flower Market: under the porch of Piazza della Repubblica, every Thursday morning from 10am to 7pm.
Best Multi-brand Boutiques and Designer Outlets
Luisa Via Roma is the cool and trendy multi-brand boutique on par with London?s Dover Street Market.
Those looking for designer fashion at a discount may consider traveling an hour outside the city to The Mall or Space factory outlets! This is the place to find past seasons from high fashion clothing from famed Italian brands like Prada, Armani, Gucci, and at others at a fraction of their original prices.
Luisa Via Roma: Via Roma, 19/21r, 50123 Firenze, Italy, +39 055 906 4116 www.luisaviaroma.com.
The Mall: About 30 minutes driving from Florence. Open 10am-7pm daily. Located at Europa 8, Leccio-Reggello, Firenze, Italy. It has Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Dior, Ermenegildo Zegna, Fendi, Armani, Gucci, Pucci, Ferragamo, Valentino, and more. Space Factory Outlets (Prada): About an hour driving from Florence. Open Mon.-Fri. 10:30am-7:30pm, Sat. 9:30am-7:30pm, and Sun. 10:30am-6:30pm. Located at Via Levanella Becorpi, Localita Levanella, S.S 69, Montevarchi. It has the Prada line stores?Prada, Miu Miu, Helmut Lang, Prada Sport and Church. Fendi: About 35 minutes driving from Florence. Open from Mon. to Sat. 10am-7pm and Sun. from 3pm-7pm. Located at Via Pian dell?Isola 66/33, Rignano sull?Arno, Reggello. Dolce & Gabbana: About 30 minutes driving from Florence. Open from Mon.-Sat. 10am-7pm and Sun. from 3pm-7pm. Located at Via S. Maddalena 49, Pian dell?Isola Rignano sull?Arno. It has: Two floors of D&G shoes and clothing, including past collections, front-line stocks, samples, and seconds.
Best Handmade Finds
The Oltrarno district is known for its centuries-old Florentine handmade traditions. Most of the workshops scattered around this area could be straight out of the Renaissance. Its bookbinders, sculptors, metalworkers, and gold-gilders have shops and studios in a maze of little streets between the Ponte Vecchio and Santo Spirito. Make sure to check out Enrico Giannini, a fifth-generation bookbinder, who makes books, albums, boxes, and the city's most beautiful marbled paper. Another great shop is The Sarubbi Brothers, two young lithographers who make handmade prints from antique maps.
Enrico Giannini: Via Velluti 10r. Note: He is usually closed both Saturday & Sunday. The Sarubbi Brothers: Sdrucciolo dei Pitti 11r. Hours: 10am-7pm Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Top Local Womenswear Designer
Patrizia Pepe: An edgy, contemporary design star with a flagship store in front of the Duomo.
Patrizia Pepe: Via Strozzi 11/19r, Duomo, Florence, 50123, 055/2302518, www.patriziapepe.com
Top Two Best Places for Coffee
Giubbe Rosse: It's a typical old-style Italian coffee shop and it has a nice terrace on Piazza Della Repubblica. Another great place for coffee is Caffe Giacosa, owned by Roberto Cavalli.
Giubbe Rosse: Piazza della Repubblica, 13/14r, 50123 Firenze, Italy, +39 055 212280. Caffe Giocosa: Via della Spada, 10/r, Firenze, Italy, +39 055 277 6328.
Best Luxury Shopping District
The street with the most luxurious shopping in Florence is Via Tornabuoni. Here and in the immediate area you will find some of the most notable designer boutiques in fashion, Renaissance palazzos, artisanal workshops, coffee shops, and private residences. Some of our favorite shops are Baroni, Libreria Bruno Baccani, Chopard, Braccialini, Sartoria Rossi, Loro Piana, Cesare Paciotti, Valli, and Beltrami.
Best Place for a Quick Bite with Friends
Cucina Tipica Fiorentia is very authentic and frequented by locals -- it's known for its high quality meat.
Cucina Tipica Fiorentia: Viale Vasco Pratolini 3/5/7 50124 Firenze
Best Place for Cocktails
Caffe Giacosa, which is also owned by Roberto Cavalli; and Capocaccia which has the best view of Ponte Vecchio and great jazz.
Caffe Giacosa: Via della Spada, 10/r, Firenze, Italy, +39 055 277 6328. Capocaccia: Capocaccia Lungarno Corsini 12-14, Florence
Best Places for Vintage and Bohemian Finds
Mercato Di San Lorenzo is the best place for handmade leather goods.
Piazza del Mercato Centrale, 50123 Firenze, Italy, +39 055 210214.
Boutique Nadine is quaint and local - you'll find vintage clothing, boho jewelry, and pretty trinkets here.
Via de' Benci 32r.
Best Place for a Day of Beauty -- Massage, Nails, Hair
The Lungarno, which is owned by Ferragamo, or The Savoy Hotel are the best places for a day of pampering.
The Lungarno: Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli, 4, Firenze, Italy ? +39 055 2726 8000
Photo courtesy of Beagai8