what to buy in florence

Florence is filled with the work of artisans — perfect for souvenirs. (Photo: Getty Images)

Culture + Style

Save Your Euros for a Shopping Excursion in Florence

Florence’s rich artisan culture and age-old traditions continue to inspire locally produced wares. Florence’s shopping culture, like that of all Italy’s cities, is a treat. In addition to only-in-Florence finds, you’ll have easy access to major Italian and international brands and stores.

While most tourists flock to the city for its renowned leather design and production, Florence’s shops offer so much more. Whether you’re seeking a bustling market, artisan workshop or designer boutique, Florence doesn’t disappoint.

The Most Famous Leather in the World

what to buy in florence
Inside the Leather School in Florence. (Photo: Alamy)

Florence is perhaps best known for its leather goods. This is a centuries-old trade and tradition, and whether you’re shopping for clothing, shoes, bags or accessories, you really will be spoiled for choice. From high-end boutiques to artisan workshops and markets (with lots of fake goods hawked on the street), sussing out the leather sector in this town can become intimidating.

Start your browsing at the San Lorenzo Market, which is a unique and bustling shopping experience, but then head to the Leather School in Piazza di Santa Croce and the small boutique Via de’ Ginori 23r for more intimate experiences.

Dont leave without: sourcing a leather-bound diary or notebook. Pay attention to the stitching, which should be reasonably tight on a high-quality book.

Uncovering Florence’s Artisan Heart

Sure, you could shop at Florence’s high-end designer stores, but it’s better to prioritize a more Florentine experience. The city is famous for its artisans, and on any given street or in any alley, you might stumble upon a local shoe cobbler or jewelry maker.

Across the Arno and a short walk from the Duomo, you’ll find the Oltrarno district, often touted as the city’s equivalent to Paris’ Left Bank. Here, between Via Maggio and Piazza Pitti, you’ll find a maze of artisan workshops and specialty stores well worth browsing.

Don’t leave without: sniffing (and buying!) bespoke perfume or scented candles and soaps from AquaFlor. Housed in a 16th-century palazzo, this place is a treat for all the senses.

Edible Souvenirs Are the Best Souvenirs

what to buy in florence
Say, “cheese”! (Photo: Getty Images)

What would a trip to Italy be without indulging in copious amounts of food and drink? There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the benefits of Tuscan cuisine and wine long after your Florentine sojourn ends. Crispy and decadent cantucci biscuits, local wine and even cheeses or extra-virgin olive oil are all up for sale and make for great mementos.

The Mercato Centrale food hall is a great option for gourmet food purchases. For a wide selection of local wine, head to SignorVino or Enoteca Pitti Gola and Cantina, where the expert staff will guide you as you shop.

Don’t leave without: Consider joining Enoteca Pitti‘s wine club, which delivers internationally, so you can enjoy a local drink long after you’ve left the city.

Exploring City Markets

what to buy in florence
Pop into the city’s many markets. (Photo: Getty Images)

Florence’s streets and squares were made for housing outdoor markets, and many of the regular ones have existed for centuries. In the heart of town, the San Lorenzo Market and Mercato Nuovo (Mercato del Porcellino) are two of the most famous — which also means they’re now two of the most overrun with crowds.

While they’re both worth a peek, plan to head to some of the city’s less-touristy haunts, like the Sant’Ambrogio fresh food market, open Monday through Saturday. Here you can buy cheese and some fresh produce — perfect for a picnic lunch.

The Mercato Centrale near the church of San Lorenzo is a gastronome’s playground. Also open Monday through Saturday, it’s a great place to shop for treats to bring home. As an added bonus, many of the market stands will vacuum pack and ship their goods around the world.

Or try the flea market at Piazza dei Ciompi for antiques, old books and other vintage items. The Fortezza da Basso market is another boon for antiques lovers and is held on the third weekend of the month.

Don’t leave without: trying a panino with lampredotto at Nerbone at the Mercato Centrale. They serve up this traditional boiled tripe in bread from early morning.