Everyone knows that Florence is a great place to shop; the problem is knowing exactly where to find the most exclusive of treasures. Hidden behind the endless flow of street life and congestion we can still find workshops where craftsmen carve masterpieces out of semi precious stone, where fine linens are stitched and adorned, where hand-painted ceramics are designed one at a time. We’ll navigate you through the sea of leather shops for the highest quality and on-the-spot tailoring, as well as introduce you to seamstresses/tailors for made-to-fit designer clothing. We’ll take you directly to the factories and ateliers where everything can be custom ordered for a fraction of U.S. prices! See how exquisite handcrafted items are made according to centuries-old traditions. We can arrange special demonstrations and make shopping appointments in ateliers that are not open to the public, but will sell to you at wholesale prices.
This family-run workshop hand-paints each beautiful piece in a farmhouse located just outside of Radda (from Radda, it is on the Chiantigiana road towards Siena). They offer a wonderland of ceramics in Renaissance and modern styles, from dishes to platters to giant vases. The Rampini’s have a magnificent new showroom on Piazza Santa Maria Soparno, 1. Ph: 055-234-0696. Open all day from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Credit cards accepted but they give a discount for personal checks or cash.
Florence is famous for its high quality leather. We will direct you to the best quality and prices on leather coats, belts, purses, briefcases and wallets.
Antique Estate Jewelry
If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind treasure, go to see Judy Gualtieri, an elegant Italo-American with a fine eye for exquisite one-of-a-kind pieces jewelry from the early 1800ʹs to the 1940ʹs. She is extremely reputable and her things pieces are often appraised for much higher than their sale price.
TessilarteWe thought we died and went to heaven when we found this small artisanal factory. The owner, Paola Martinetti, took over the business started by her mother in 1947 and designs and produces unbelievably gorgeous cotton and linen sheets, pique coverlets, duvet covers, tablecloths, runners and place mats for big names like Frette, Christian Dior, Bergdorf Goodman, etc. Only here, you pay half of the U.S. prices! Everything is carefully crafted and finished by her team of artisans. Special orders are welcome! Visits by appointment. The factory is off the beaten path, but your Custom Tours guide can help you find it.
Mosaico LastrucciAt first glance, the masterpieces that come out of the workshop of Bruno & Iacopo Lastrucci might seem like paintings, but these works are made entirely out of inlaid stone. The technique known as “pietre dure” dates back to Renaissance Florence, when the Medici princes commissioned highly-skilled artisans to produce gorgeous inlaid furniture and objects to adorn their palaces and impress foreign dignitaries. Amazingly, there are still a handful of artisans that use the same 500 year-old techniques. Each richly colored stone is finely cut and filed to fit together seamlessly. The Lastrucci mosaics can be found in museums and private art collections all over the world.
Collevilca, crystal makers in Colle Val d’Elsa.The finest crystal in Italy comes from Colle Val d’Elsa, and the best craftsmen are those at Collevilca. This small factory of artisans has preserved the old techniques of blowing by hand when other factories chose to switch to fully automated pressed crystal. See how these dedicated artisans work as a team to create beautiful stemware, vases, and more.
Giulio Giannini e Figlio
This family run leather and paper bookbinder shop has bee in Florence since 1856. Enrico Giannini, a Florentine master craftsman, makes elegant books decorated in gold leaf, one-of-a-kind albums, ingenious boxes, and various other paper designs in his small atelier. He is the 5th generation in his family to dedicate himself to the art of bookbinding and the creation of new designs in leather and paper. In the 1970s and 1980s, he launched the craze for marbleizing paper by re-inventing this ancient technique and using it for all kinds of new designs. A visit to their shop is a magical experience for anyone who loves books, paper, and Florentine history. Piazza de Pitti, 37, 50125 Firenze, +39 055 212621
Gold Jewelry on and near the Ponte Vecchio
Not all of the shops are alike! We will direct you to the best quality, selection and price.
Orlandini Goldsmiths (outside Florence)
This feisty family of fine jewelry makers work out of a beautifully restored ex-monastery in San Casciano, V.P, located 25 minutes south of Florence. Orlando and Paladino, father and son goldsmiths, are the designers and producers, while Carmela and Lidia, Orlando’s wife and daughter, run the business side. The four very different personalities make for a creative, lively environment. They have been making limited edition, patented pieces for over 25 years and their world renowned jewelry has won many prestigious international awards. Two of their creations are in the permanent collection of Florence’s Pitti Palace museum. Each piece is painstakingly constructed entirely by hand by a team of master goldsmiths. We can visit them in their 15th century home (an enormous treat in itself!) and see their sample collection. Their home/atelier IS NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC and they do not speak English, but we may arrange a visit during a Chianti day, or by special advance appointment.
Our contacts can help you purchase and ship wine back to the USA. This isn’t as easy as it sounds—let an expert do it!
The “Outlet Malls”
Combine one with a winery visit or hill town, or opt for a an all-day shopping marathon!
The Mall Outlet (30/35 minutes south east of Florence) Brands: Agnona, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Emanuel Ungaro, Ermnegildo Zegna, Fendi, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Hogan, I Pinco Pallino, La Perla, Loro Piana, Marni, Salvatore Ferragamo, Sergio Rossi, Stella McCartney, Tod’s, Valentino, Yohji Yamamoto, Y’s, Y-3, Yves Saint Laurent. Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 10.00 am to 7.00 pm – Sunday 3.00 pm to 7.00 pm.
Prada Outlet – (45 min south of Florence straight driving – 20 min starting from The Mall). Open: Monday – Saturday 9.30 am to 7.00 pm, Sunday 2.00 pm to 7.00 pm
Barberino McArthur Glen Designer Outlets (30/40 minutes north of Florence) This new outlet (2006) was designed according to characteristic Mugello and Tuscan Renaissance architecture. Brands: Prada, Pollini, Missoni, Guess, Bruno Magli are among the prestige designers.