By Kelsey Poynor
Throughout the streets of Florence (Firenze), one will find a multitude of stores to visit, including indoor and outdoor vendors. Lined with an assortment of places to choose from, it is very easy for one who loves to shop, to spend more euros than originally planned. Vendors stand on the streets hawking selfie sticks, toys, paintings of Italy, souvenirs, scarves, jewelry and much more.
The most popular products in Florence are leather goods. Leather items can be found in indoor shops and on just about every street corner in outdoor booths. The aroma of leather fills the air and the wide range of leather items brightens the streets with rainbow colors of bags, purses, wallets, keychains, eyeglass cases, and just about anything that can be made from leather.
Vendors will offer prospective buyers a price for goods that may seem expensive, but do not be afraid to ask for a few euros off. Most vendors will come down from their original asking price, and if they don’t, you can likely find the same bag in the same color in the next booth or store just a few steps away.
But don’t let the sellers fool you; check the label on the item you are interested in to see if the item was actually “made in Italy.”. Many vendors will try to trick a tourist into buying an item that looks authentic, but was really made in China. Make sure that you use euros instead of a credit card at these booths because sometimes the vendors will not take credit cards. The price of these leather goods are not incredibly high. I bought a gift for my mother, a medium sized purse with a long strap, for 40 euros, which comes out to about $45.
One of the study abroad students in my communications group, Ashley Ford, loves shopping and checking out new stores. While in Florence, she made a few purchases, one being a leather purse from one of the authentic leather stores Florence is famous for.
“Stores fill the streets and even the bus station. With everyone being so busy around you, it’s hard to window shop,” Ford explained.
With little chance to window shop, Ford headed into the stores to check out what they entailed.
“You see cute clothes that are more modern and supressingly plain, very few patterns. But my eyes would light up when we would walk past a store that’s more upscale and hidden between the regular priced shops,” Ford told.
Other than the leather goods, Florence brims with gelato shops, wine shops, restaurants, clothing stores and a store for just about any need. To serve the crowds of tourists wanting a souvenir of their visits, many artists are on the streets painting pictures of famous sights in Florence and throughout Italy. If you think a price is too high, negotiate. If that doesn’t work, another artist with almost the same painting likely will be nearby.
Beware of street vendors, they can seem a bit pushy. Do not let vendors put an item in your hands or they will insist you buy it and not give up until you pay them for the item. Simply tell them no you are not interested and try to make the least possible amount of eye contact if you don’t want to be bothered.
More upscale designer stores such as Gucci and Roberto Cavalli were founded in Florence as well as many others. The town is a fashion lover’s heaven. Prada, Hugo Boss, Chanel, Armani, Bulgari and many more designer stores are all within walking distance of one another. If a shopper does not necessarily feel the need to spend a lot for a designer item, more affordable shops are within walking distance.
A few fast food restaurants and stores that a tourist in Florence may find that is much like America are Burger King, McDonalds and the Disney store.
Florence is a must when it comes to visiting Italy. Magnificent architecture is on every street and at every corner. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that one will simply not forget – and taking back an item from Florence will help keep those memories alive.