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Florence Shopping

Aprosio & Co.
11 Via Santo Spirito
Florence
Italy
Tel: 39 055 265 4077
www.aprosio.it

Now occupying chic new premises on the ground floor of a Renaissance palazzo in the Oltrarno, Aprosio continues to draw admirers from far and wide. All the jewelry and accessories here are made up of thousands of minute glass beads intricately crafted into necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, rope belts, and evening bags. Some of these are along fairly classical lines, while others are wild flights of imagination featuring a whole range of insects and other creatures.

Closed Sundays.

Arredamenti Castorina
15/r Via Santo Spirito
Florence
Italy
Tel: 39 055 212 885
www.castorina.net

Family-run Castorina was established in the early 1900s as a restorer of wood and gilding. Today, the craftsmen not only restore but also reproduce every imaginable kind of wooden ornament and decoration, cutting, inlaying, turning, gilding, and silvering wood in a series of crowded rooms at the back of a small, intriguing shop in the Oltrarno. Come here for a lavish Baroque picture frame, a sphinx paperweight, a replacement leg for your Regency table, chubby golden cherubs to decorate the house at Christmas, or the ornamental finials to finish off that four-poster bed.

Closed Sundays and in August.

Assunta Anichini
59/r Via di Parione
Florence
Italy
Tel: 39 055 284 977
www.anichini.net

In business since 1912, Anichini, located just north of the river, is the oldest children's clothing store in Florence. The rails and shelves are filled with exquisite garments for elegant little people from newborns to 12-year-olds. The most beautiful clothes are made in-house under Anichini's own label, and all the intricate embroidery and smocking is done by hand. This is the place to visit for bridesmaid dresses, christening robes, or fairy-tale party dresses in velvet, silk, organza, shantung, and Liberty lawn; traditional sailor suits in crisp cottons and linens; tiny sheepskin jackets and fabulous romper suits.

Emilio Pucci
22/r Via Tornabuoni
Florence
Italy
Tel: 39 055 265 8082
www.emiliopucci.com

Born in Naples, Italian aristocrat and ski champion Emilio Pucci set up headquarters in Florence, his family's historic power base, when his fashion house began to take off in the 1950s. You can still pick up all those swirling, swinging abstract cartoon prints, now being styled by British designer and party animal Matthew Williamson.

Closed Sundays.

Ferragamo
16/r Via Tornabuoni
Florence
Italy
Tel: 39 055 292 123
www.salvatoreferragamo.com

Salvatore Ferragamo's rags-to-riches story is the stuff of fairy tales; born into a poor family (one of 14 children) in Naples in 1898, he emigrated to the United States at the age of 16 and soon started making shoes for movie stars. He moved back to Florence in 1927 and opened his workshop in the formidable Palazzo Spini Feroni, which today houses the company's headquarters and this large store selling everything from the classic silk scarves and daintily bowed court shoes to more contemporary designs. Footwear fetishists should not miss a visit to the Shoe Museum (entrance at No. 2; 39-055-336-0456; open by appointment or for temporary exhibitions), which includes styles worn by the likes of Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn, and Marilyn Monroe, plus documentation on Ferragamo's personal life story.

Giulio Giannini e Figlio
37/r Piazza Pitti
Florence
Italy
Tel: 39 055 212 621

This bookbinding and papermaking company was founded on these premises, just north of Giardino Di Boboli, in 1856 by the Giannini family; the business is still run from the workshop upstairs. While the papers used are not as original and interesting as those at Il Torchio, there is a great selection of leather and paper-bound books and albums, desk accessories, and greetings cards (look out for the charming Christmas versions).

Il Bisonte
31/r Via del Parione
Florence
Italy
Tel: 39 055 215 722
www.ilbisonte.net

Bisonte's chunky leather bags (with the trademark bison motifs) are renowned throughout the world, and the business began in Florence. The current central premises are housed in two huge arched rooms, one dominated by a life-size model bison. Workmanship is of the highest quality, as are the hides used. A characteristically soft Bisonte bag will last for years and years if you take good care of it, only improving with age. Come here for suitcases, handbags, briefcases, accessories, gift items, and a range of clothing

Il Torchio
17 Via dei Bardi
Florence
Italy
Tel: 39 055 234 2862
www.legatoriailtorchio.com

The art of decorative papermaking originated in France several centuries ago, but a strong tradition of the craft has long flourished in Florence. Colored inks are added to a solution of gelatin and marine algae in a shallow tray; metal combs are then drawn through the liquid to create intricate marbled patterns. Il Torchio stocks some of the most interesting decorative paper in the city; you can see bookbinders at work and hunt for gifts among a fine selection of boxes, albums, stationery, address books, and other gift items.

Closed Sundays.

La Bottega dell'Olio
2/r Piazza del Limbo
Florence
Italy
Tel: 39 055 267 0468

The Tuscan countryside is renowned for its olive groves, and this little shop sells an original and interesting selection of all sorts of things to do with olives, their oil, and their wood. First and foremost is a fine variety of olive oils and other edible goodies, such as artichoke hearts preserved in oil. Then there are soaps, lotions and potions, candles, table linens decorated with an olive motif, and some beautiful olive wood breadboards, cutlery, and pestles and mortars. The best time to buy is from January onwards, as this is when the previous autumn's new bottlings begin to arrive.

Closed Sundays and Monday mornings.

Luisa Via Roma
19–21/r Via Roma
Florence
Italy
Tel: 39 055 217 826
www.luisaviaroma.com

One of Florence's most interesting one-stop fashion stores, multilevel Luisa, next to the Duomo, is famous for its highly original and ever-changing window displays. Inside, you'll find a fabulous choice of cutting-edge designer collections for men and women from Italian and international, plus a few more cultish names such as Juicy Couture and Rick Owens. They also sell high-fashion shoes, jewelry, and accessories.

Madova
1/r Via de' Guicciardini
Florence
Italy
Tel: 39 055 239 6526
www.madova.com

Florence is a great place to buy gloves, and this tiny shop near the southern end of the Ponte Vecchio is one of the very best. The only glove shop in the city to produce its stock on site, it makes the exquisitely crafted guanti in a factory just behind the shop. Gloves come in every conceivable color from classic browns, black, and navy to the latest season's avocado-green and sizzling orange. Models range from simple, unlined styles to silk, wool, or cashmere-lined classics, from men's driving gloves to fabulously elaborate creations for serious dressing up.

Closed Sundays.

Mercato Centrale
Via del Ariento
Florence
Italy

Florence's central produce market is a feast for the senses and a must for foodies. Occupying a 19th-century glass and iron structure, the market houses deli, meat, and poultry stalls (pretty gory if you are vegetarian) on the ground floor, while upstairs, fresh produce stalls provide displays of seasonal fruits and vegetables in a rainbow of colors. Look out for Mario Conti's stall on the ground floor near the main entrance, which is packed with olive oils, balsamic vinegars (some of them aged for 100 years), dried mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, condiments, and chutneys. Nearby is the Perini brothers' mouthwatering shop, where you can buy cheeses, hams, and salamis and have them vacuum-packed for the journey home (open Mon–Fri 7 a.m.–2 p.m., Sat only in winter). And don't miss a visit to Baroni around the corner, the best food shop in the market, with an extensive selection of wines, cheeses, salumi, and plenty more. They can ship your purchases anywhere in the world (fax: 39-055-289-576).

Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella
16 Via della Scala
Florence
Italy
Tel: 39 055 216 276

Of the many herbalists' shops in Florence, this is the most famous. Occupying a stunning ex-pharmacy in an ancient palazzo with a frescoed 13th-century chapel, it's worth visiting for the setting alone. However, you will be hard put to resist some of the gorgeous goodies on offer, most notably what is generally acknowledged to be the best soap in the world. Many of the products (bath oils, body lotions, face creams, skin tonics, and so on) are still made to the Dominican monk, Angiolo Marchissi's barely modified 14th-16th-century recipes. Medicinal remedies include such curiosities as Aceto delle Sette Ladri (for fainting spells) and Acqua Antisterica (valued for its antispasmodic properties). You can now buy Santa Maria Novella scents all over the world, but nowhere can compare with the original store.

Raspini
25/r Via Roma
Florence
Italy
Tel: 39 055 213 077
www.raspini.com

There are several city-center branches of this chic one-stop shop, which stocks men's and women's fashions and shoes by Romeo Gigli, Armani, Prada, Miu Miu, Anna Molinari, Dolce & Gabbana, and many more. It also sells its own clothing line, shoes (definitely worth a look), and accessories. The Via Roma store is the biggest, but there are others at 72r Via Por Santa Maria (39-055-215-596) and 3–7 Via Martelli (39-055-239-8336). Raspini (17r Via Calimaruzza) is an outlet selling previous seasons' stock from the main stores, where you will find massive discounts on Raspini's own label as well as other major designers.

Riccardo Barthel
234r Via dei Serragli
Florence
Italy 50124
Tel: 39 055 228 0721
www.riccardobarthel.it

Barthel is the king of Italy's shabby-chic interior designers. His shop and HQ near the Porta Romana is a treasure trove of old copper pots, worn leather armchairs, antique Vietri floor tiles, picture frames, and other exquisitely tasteful domestic bibelots, with originals and reproductions merging seamlessly in the mix. You can buy single items, though the place is essentially a calling card for Barthel's thriving design consultancy. But for anyone interested in the new-old Tuscan country look, a wander around the designer's lair is a great source of inspiration.

Open Mondays through Fridays 9 am to 1 pm and 3:30 to 7:30 pm, and Saturdays 9 am to 1 pm, October through April.

Roberto Cavalli
83/r Via Tornabuoni
Florence
Italy
Tel: 39 055 239 6226
www.robertocavalli.it

Local boy Roberto Cavalli's flagship store opened a couple of years ago, controversially taking over a space previously occupied by Giacosa, one of Florence's classic cafés. The mouthwatering cakes and pastries in the window have been replaced by Cavalli's brash rock-star creations. When you get fed up with shopping (or to recover from the price tag on that pair of skintight, sequined, and ripped-up jeans), pop next door to Cavalli's café, where you can perch on a leopard-skin ottoman and watch a catwalk show on the huge video screen while sipping a cocktail; you might even catch a glimpse of the man himself.

Roberto Ugolino
17/r Via dei Michelozzi
Florence
Italy
Tel: 39 055 216 246
www.roberto-ugolini.com

Young shoemaker Roberto Ugolini's small workshop is just off Piazza Santo Spirito; you can watch him and his apprentices at work turning out exquisite men's shoes. From the first measurements to the finished article, expect to wait about four months, but the result will be well worth the patience required, and the shoes will last for years. Ugolini's models are mostly along fairly traditional lines: wingtips and monk straps with various degrees of decoration in a whole range of colors.

Closed Sundays.

Scuola del Cuioio
5/r Via San Giuseppe
Florence
Italy
Tel: 39 055 244 533
www.leatherschool.com

Created as a vocational charity for war orphans, this leather school is located inside the cloisters of Santa Croce church (you can also enter through the church itself). Apart from perusing a wide range of high-quality leather goods (jackets, bags, luggage, accessories, gift items, and a great selection of change purses and wallets), all at very reasonable prices, you can actually watch craftsmen and their apprentices at work. You can also have goods custom-made in calfskin, ostrich, or crocodile in a huge range of colors.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.