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Florence Shopping question

Waltham...
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Florence Shopping question

We’re looking for an area with interesting unique and/or funky shops with reasonably priced items (clothes, gifts, etc), preferably locally-made. It seems like there are the high priced stores and boutiques at one end and the tacky souvenir shops at the other end but nothing in the middle. One suggestion was the Via di Spirito Santo in the Oltrarno. Thoughts?

La Pelle
Gift & Speciality Shops
Roberta
Gift & Speciality Shops
Lo Spillo
Gift & Speciality Shops
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Destination Expert
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1. Re: Florence Shopping question

Your language simply has little or no relevance to the Florence I know.

In the first place, the term "funky", in my vocabulary, would apply to clothing for people who want to dress just like many young Americans. If pre-torn jeans are what you want, you will find them.

Second, so far as I know, Florence does not have any "area" that specializes in "funky" or is remotely like London's Carnaby Street in the 1960s.

Via Santo Spirito (note the correct name) is, in fact, the relatively short, middle section of a long street with three different names, running from west to east on the left bank, or "Oltr'arno", side of the river -- the Borgo San Frediano, Via Santo Spirito, and the Borgo San Jacopo. Like all great Florentine streets, it's a wonderful hodgepodge, with ancient palaces and much older tower houses, churches, elegant hotels, fancy and not so fancy restaurants, fancy and not so fancy shops, and on and on. One of my all-time favorite shops in Florence -- where they make superb wood finials and other such stuff -- is in the Via Santo Spirito.

There are lots of shops in "the middle". I don't know which ones might meet your definition of "funky". I don't know of any part of town where they congregate -- except I would think about getting away from the tourist epicenter around the Cathedral, the Palazzo Vecchio, and Santa Croce. Think about the areas around the Sant'Ambrogio market in the east or around Santa Maria Novella in the west. Or take a look at the stuff in the shopping center under the main railroad station, which is right behind Santa Maria Novella.

Beware of the San Lorenzo Market, in the streets adjacent to the Mercato Centrale. Note that regardless of whatever labels the merchandise may have, about 90 percent of the stuff sold in the market is rubbish made in China. And much of the rest is rubbish actually made in Italy by Chinese workers in sweatshops.

Edited: 07 August 2018, 19:36
Waltham...
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2. Re: Florence Shopping question

Venerosi: Thanks for the thoughtful response and sorry about my choice of words. When I think "funky", I think unique, eccentric, one-of-a-kind, offbeat, non-traditional, exotic, hand-crafted. I wasn't thinking ripped jeans. But traditional is fine, too, as long as it's well-made and not too expensive (troppo caro!). With the global economy, it seems like everywhere you go you see the same stores with the same mass-manufactured stuff in them. I'm just wondering if there are some places to avoid that without paying 50 Euros or more for an item. Maybe we just have champagne taste and beer budget!

San Juan Capistrano
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3. Re: Florence Shopping question

So when we lived in Florence for a brief time in 2015, we discovered a flea market at the plaza in front of Santo Spirito, the church. I believe it was held every other Saturday....not entirely sure. Perhaps this is what you heard about. It was a combo of the local’s “treasures” from their homes as well as local artisans’ hand crafted items. I bought a beautiful olive wood cheese board that I love! There were also food items being sold, flowers, etc...All those selling items appeared to be Italians, and the only Chinese were the tourists!

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4. Re: Florence Shopping question

John B,

"it seems like everywhere you go you see the same stores with the same mass-manufactured stuff in them."

I couldn't agree more.

Until remarkably recently, Florence used to be almost totally immune from that -- unfortunately that's no longer the case. There simply are fewer shops selling unique, locally made stuff, and more selling generic stuff made more cheaply somewhere else.

But you can still find it. It simply isn't located in any specific street or even area of town -- you have to walk all around looking for it. But central Florence is very small, and it may well be the best city for walking on the planet.

I am afraid your ideas about pricing are more than just a tad out of wack. Don't expect to find much of anything "hand-crafted", "locally-made" and cheap -- or even "reasonable" -- whatever that means. Florence in 2018 is not the Rome of "The Bicycle Thief" in 1948. The cost of living here is a good deal higher than in Waltham, MA. I was in a market with an American a couple of years ago, who said to me: "I don't see any bargains here." I told him: "Go look in a mirror."

And I'm afraid even "hand-crafted", "locally-made" beer is not cheap.

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5. Re: Florence Shopping question

That's Globalisation, the topic of the day in all the Italian business pages. Anything one-off or unusual comes, I reckon, either at a price in one of those itsy bitsy boutiques that shoppers cleverer than I find or else on the stalls sometimes in Piazza Santo Spirito. I think Saturday morning is best there or even on a Sunday if they are hosting one of their "flea / artisan markets". I have in the past bought interesting items of clothing and home wear there but I don't know the regularity. Otherwise, stroll around the Oltrarno venturing into San Niccolo' where there are some interesting shops or, better still, the more local neighbourhood of San Frediano.

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6. Re: Florence Shopping question

I believe that the flea market at Piazza Santo Spirito is held every second Sunday of the month.

In addition to the areas suggested by lastraniera, you might find something in the Sant'Ambrogio district. There's a shop called Mrs Macis at the corner of Borgo Pinti and Via di Mezzo - not everyone's cup of tea, I grant you. However, you probably wouldn't see anyone else wearing the same dress. You can see her working through the window. There's another shop a few doors away that usually sells stull like vintage clothing. What the prices are like I have no idea, I'm afraid.

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7. Re: Florence Shopping question

Now that sounds worth a visit, Lady B. I'm not a fashionista at all (I have nothing / nowhere to dress up for!) but my best friend is and although usually found in Stella McCartney or discount Gucci she bought a lot of stuff from the Santo Spirito flea market when we were last there together.

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8. Re: Florence Shopping question

She who must be obeyed tells me that she has found a number of "vintage" clothing shops in Florence.

Then, of course, there's the astonishing sale orchestrated from time to time in the huge garden of the Principessa Corsini, where ladies in her crowd raise money for charity by selling their designer gowns, minks, etc., after they've worn them -- at most -- once.

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9. Re: Florence Shopping question

Not sure if it's still open but on the left immediately after the Pitti heading towards Porta Romana there was a good place selling both vintage clothes and accessories (lots of LV bags, for instance) but similar stuff available from several good stallholders at Arezzo monthly antiques fair so I've usually bought there instead. Re the Principessa's sale, if only lady residents of Southern Tuscan hill towns could find an excuse to get out of their year-round jeans and tee shirts and into a designer gowns ....

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10. Re: Florence Shopping question

lastraniera,

Just a few years ago, on a Sunday afternoon, we were being driven around San Casciano by some local friends. When we were near one of the huge Corsini properties in that part of the world, the fellow said they knew some members of the family and suggested we drive in and see if anybody they knew was about. As it happens, there wasn't, but we did meet some other members of the family, They were all up to their ears in mud, and they were all wearing jeans -- which I'm confident were torn after they bought them, not before. I'm sure they all -- or at least the ones of the female persuasion -- were wearing designer gowns before the day was out.

That's one of the things that makes Tuscany different.

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