Shopping in Florence
Shopping in Florence Italy is a unique experience for anyone visiting the city. Among the streets of the historic city center, you will find an abundance of shops dedicated to Italian fashion as well as other famous international brands. However, what makes shopping in Florence truly special are the shops you will find mixed in among the more commercial window displays the heirs to the great Florentine traditions of leather goods, straw hats, ceramics, perfumes, and goldsmiths.
Leather processing in Florence dates back to the Middle Ages when artisans worked leather on the banks of the Arno. Even today in Santa Croce there is the historic and prestigious Leather School that trains today's artisans, an area that is also home to numerous shops where you can purchase leather crafts. Any shopping trip in Florence must include the famous Florentine straw hat. Handmade with a special technique that dates back to the 14thcentury, Florentine straw hats are made with 40 rounds of braids each made up of 13 threads and sewn together. Long loved by European nobility, it achieved world wide fame by the name of Leghorn (the English translation of Livorno) because that was the port the Florentine straw hats would leave from before being shipped across the world.
The invention of glazed terracotta by the Della Robbia brothers in the 15th century gave way to the Florentine tradition of brightly colored ceramic sculptures, vases, and other objects. Today the Florentine ceramics are made on the outskirts of the city, but the historic city center still contains several shops dedicated to this ancient tradition. Each year in October, the International Ceramics Fair (Fiera Internazionale della Ceramica) is a unique opportunity to shop in Florence for the highest quality handcrafted ceramics. Anyone strolling across Ponte Vecchio will find themself surrounded by shop windows sparkling with gold and precious stone jewels. The Florentine tradition of working with gold has been successfully passed down through the generations to today's goldsmiths who continue to create jewels and precious metal objects exclusively by hand in their workshops scattered throughout the city.
Perfume is another historic tradition in Florence. Spice shops, pharmacists, and monks have created perfumed ointments since the 14th century, believing them to have healing properties and protect against disease. Over time, they became master perfumers for kings and queens and the tradition lives on today among historic pharmacies, workshops and artisan laboratories that create exclusive perfumes known as "profumi di nicchia".