Florence: How to look like a local – Part 1: The Clothes

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Dressed in Florence. Photo: Annie Chu
Dressed in Florence. Photo: Annie Chu

Let’s face it. Most of us look like Clydesdales trotting around Florence in our clunky running shoes and baggy Bermuda shorts while the locals prance down the sidewalk like fashionistas of cool.

So what can we do about the not-fitting-in situation? Read on my friend, read on.

Start with the shoes

Let’s start with the obvious: lose the shoes. It even rhymes, so no excuses. White New Balance runners might be fine in Connecticut but in Florence they’ll blow your cover faster than whistling “Dixie Land” through a megaphone.

Consider leather walking shoes, leather sandals, or if you must, a more conservative sports shoe. You’ll find affordable shops selling shoes on Via del Corso. And while we’re on the subject of footwear, sports sandals don’t cut it here either. Leather. Leather. Leather! And flip-flops? Forget it.

On the subject of shorts

Let’s move our way up, shall we? How about shorts? Nope. Italians don’t wear them. Unless it’s at the beach where the name of the game is to wear the least amount of clothing possible. A true Italian would rather eat canned tomato sauce than be caught wearing half a pair of pants in the street. Long pants, shirts, dresses, but no shorts.

As for beachwear, one word: Speedo.


Now we come to the torso. Remember, you’re trying to blend in, not look like a walking billboard. Big letters out, neatly-pressed shirts or monochrome tees in. Don’t shout with your t-shirt, save that for your hands and face – like the locals do.

The city center is filled with shops and sales are on twice a year at the end of the summer and after Christmas. Take advantage of those, stores slash prices by up to 75 percent.

Clothing outlets

There are several ways of cheaping your way into vogue. One suggestion is to attend “Vintage Selection” – Florence’s annual vintage clothing fair held in late January. Check Stazione Leopolda’s website for more info.

There are also discount clothing outlets in the outskirts of Florence which house most of the big Italian designer labels. The Mall and Barberino seem to be two of the more popular ones. They also offer tour packages which include entrance fees.

Ready to act

So now that you’re all dressed up, what do you do? Stay tuned for my next post: How to act like a local.

About the author

Marc Justin Cinanni

About the author: Marc Justin Cinanni has recently begun experimenting with polenta without much success. You can follow him on Twitter here: http://www.twitter.com/marcstories

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