By Laura Mongillo in Florence
What would you rather take home as a souvenir from Florence? A pair of boxer shorts with the David’s (ahem) jewels printed on the front OR a gorgeous Florentine-made Italian leather handbag from the ’60s?
Ok, I guess that may be a gender-biased question, but is it really that hard of a decision? My best advice if you’re travelling to Florence: snag a souvenir that you can actually use and appreciate for years to come rather than some gimmicky t-shirt!
Better yet, why not get come genuine Italian vintage clothes or accessories? Not only will you find incredible high fashion pieces from historic Florentine houses such as Ferragamo and Gucci but also a slew of no-name cheaper finds that ooze lots of classic Italian style.
Florence has only one real flea market in Piazza dei Ciompi, which unfortunately has become a destitute maze of dusty stalls full of antiques, so if you’re interested in hunting down something a little more titillating try some of these vintage shops in the city center. These stores in particular have personality, helpful staff, reasonable prices and an evident care in the selection of their pieces. So happy hunting!
Via Ghibellina 24r
This is my favorite vintage store in the city. Even the intricate ironwork on the door and the graphics for the logo are beautiful! The shop is small but the merchandise, which includes all types of clothing, shoes, and accessories runs of the gamut of style, era and price (from €5 blouses to a stunning €300 dress and cape set).
You’ll probably want to chat with the woman who runs the shop, as she will act as your guide to the exact piece and price range you’re looking for. She’s especially helpful when looking for something in the right size or for that special occasion. Every time I walk in I know I’ll walk out with something irreplaceable.
Borgo degli Albizi, 72r
On this street in the city center you’ll find quite a few vintage shops that have popped up in the past few years. However skip right past Officina Vintage and their oddly vast offerings of €40 used Converse, and head up to Pitti Vintage.
Formerly located near the Pitti Palace, hence the name, this little shop has recently moved to this new location which is charmingly decorated and offers a larger showroom downstairs. The shop assistant is very sweet and helpful and you’ll find that each item was chosen with care. While most vintage shops only stock womenswear you’ll also find great men’s suits and jackets here. You’ll find that most items like dresses and boots are priced around €50, although there are often racks of items on sale and smaller items such as scarves and handbags can be a great cheapo buy. For a quick taste, check out the website.
Lady Jane B Vintage Boutique
Via dei Pilastri 32b
This recent addition to the vintage scene, near Piazza Sant’Ambrogio, is another great place to dig around and find something unexpected. The small shop holds a lot of merchandise and has an incredible assortment of leather handbags at very reasonable prices. Again, if you’re having trouble looking for something or have a specific idea or price range, don’t hesitate to ask the staff.
Vintage Selection is a vintage fair that has proved hugely successful in the past few years featuring vintage vendors from Florence and all over Europe selling their wears in a huge warehouse-like space. There is an entry fee of €5 (less if you register first online) but the price is worth it. You’ll find vendors that sell exclusively designer wares, military garments, jewelry and accessories, and even places that sell clothes by the kilogram.
The fair is held in both January and July, although the one held in January generally offers a wider selection of vendors and merchandise. Do bring comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking on concrete and it is helpful if you wear clothing that is easy on/off if you plan to try anything on. You’ll be confronted with makeshift dressing rooms constructed out of sheets and mirrors, so prepare yourself accordingly!
Do you have any other Florence shopping tips? Help your fellow bargain-hunting Cheapos and share them in the comments below!