By Marc Justin—
With the crazies of the holiday season upon us, our minds turn to those uber-important consumer questions: What will I bring home for my aunt so-and-so? What will hard-to-buy-for brother actually enjoy? What about Mom who’s awaiting both my present and my presence?
Hey, you’re in Florence, consider this a good thing! Do not waste this unique opportunity to pick up some great souvenirs! Here’s a quick guide to gifts that will fit many a Cheapo budget:
Food & Wine
Why beat around the bush? Your tummy is getting a lot out of this trip and you’d like to share some of the yummy treasures with your loved ones back home. Problem is, a Florentine tripe sandwich doesn’t travel very well.
But, confection food does! Those olives you had with your aperitivo? They were from a glass container! That ball of mozzarella that balloned over your pizza? Comes in sealed plastic! Those sundried tomatoes? They’re, um, dry so they actually travel quite well.
My point is that all these things are purchasable at any of the markets in Florence and come in small travel-friendly packages. Or if you want, do it the “cheapo way” and buy them in a supermarket.
In terms of wine, don’t waste your time. Go straight to the supermarket where a bottle can cost up to 75% less than it does in a specialty shop.
In the good ol’ days, all you had to do was become friends with the local nobility to get Michael or Leo to paint you a little number for your living room. Now, one either has to be an international art thief or an auction prince with deep pockets to score one of those. Bummer.
So we’re stuck with the replicas. Hit the souvenir shops in the Uffizi museum, the Palazzo Strozzi, or any of the other galleries where you just saw a fancy painting to pick up the poster/picture format. For something like movie posters, try the Movie Store on Via Guelfa near the tourist office.
Or, just prance about the little streets in the historic center where you’ll find tons of shops selling prints. Prices vary so don’t be afraid to shop.
Now for the third prong in our souvenir trifecta: clothes. If it’s souvenir threads you’re after (i.e. t-shirts with prints of statues on them or sweatshirts with “University of Florence” embroidered onto the front), then the markets will be your best bet. They also carry soccer jerseys, aprons, scarves, hats, just think of something and you’ll probably find it.
Also, don’t forget about Florence’s rich tradition in leather-making. You’ll find small shops all over the place that carry these goods. Sandals, purses, wallets all make great souvenirs. Some are pricey, some aren’t. A wallet can cost as little as €5 and a purse, €20.
Last Chance: Airport
Oops, you’re just about to board the plane and forgot one last cost center from your list that’s souvenir worthy. Fortunately, there are a few shops in the airport that carry food, wine and clothing. But of course, these will be more expensive.
Whatever you do, don’t snatch the blanket from the plane to give to your uncle. Seriously, don’t.
Also in our guide: Looking for hotels that fit your Cheapo budget? You’re in luck! Our editors have visited, inspected and reviewed the best cheap hotels in Florence, all centrally located. Read more in our Florence guide.