Many believe Milan and Rome to be the innovative shopping capitals of Italy, naively disregarding the Tuscan capital of Florence. On the contrary, shopping in Tuscany is just as good, if not better. The truth is Florentines like to keep secrets. Deep in the Medici Chapel is a hidden trap door, the entrance to a cellar which is covered in doodles and sketches by the great Michelangelo - all of which is closed to the public. In the remarkable 14th century Certosa del Galluzzo monastery, Catholic relics including the bones of Francis of Assisi are locked away. You can arrange meeting the monks but don’t expect to see the relics.
Italians pride themselves on being fashion conscious trend setters and they want to keep it that way. Their fashion secrets are thus passionately kept hidden as much as some of their prize religious and artistic treasures. Florencexplorer aims to advise you on the best shopping areas in Florence and allude to the Tuscan fashion outlet secrets that will undoubtedly satisfy your shopping desires.
It’s well-known that Florence is more associated with other intellectual pursuits such as philosophy, literature, architecture, history, science and technology; however the immensely important Renaissance period gifted the Tuscan region and Florence great financial wealth and a mass of immense works of beautiful art. This concentration of wealth, creative genius and imagination has created an appetite for a wide variety of original goods and a fine appreciation of quality clothing that make Florence just as appealing to the dedicated follower of fashion and bargain hunter as it does to historians and art aficionados.
The centre of Florence offers lots of boutiques, shoe shops, jewellers, markets, shopping centres, antique shops and bric-a-brac while in the surrounding Tuscan countryside designer label junkies mustn’t miss the various designer outlet village complexes offering excellent discounts on the biggest brand names.
The main shopping area in Florence is between the Cathedral and the Arno River. Many of the boutiques are concentrated along Via Roma, Via de’ Calzaiuoli and Via Por Santa Maria heading towards the Ponte Vecchio which is lined with goldsmiths and jewellery shops. Via Tornabuoni is considered to be the city’s fashion hub where you will find Prada, Armani, Pucci, Hogan, Roberto Cavalli, Agnona and Ferragamo fashion stores.
From Monday to Saturday the open-air market near Piazza del Mercato Centrale offers clothing, jewellery and leather goods at low prices but be careful as the quality varies considerably. Similarly you may find a cheap offer on antiques or bric-a-brac and something quite rare at the flea market at Piazza dei Ciompi close to Piazza di Santa Croce.
In Italy shops tend to open from 9am until 1pm and then from 3pm until 8pm. Sundays are traditionally a day of rest and thus most shops are closed. You’ll also find that most shops like to stay closed on Monday mornings.
The Tuscan Fashion Outlets
Tuscany has three main fashion outlets all of which are easily accessed from Florence by public transport. They offer visitors the chance to take advantage of discounted prices on some of the most famous brand names in Italy.
The legendary official Prada fashion outlet is located in Montevarchi and is also known as Lo Spaccio (Space). As well as aisles and aisles of Prada you’ll find Helmut Lang, Miu Miu and Jill Sander with up to 70% discount on the original retail price. From Montevarchi train station it is advisable to catch a taxi to the industrial unit that houses the Prada store.
Gucci’s outlet is in Leccio Reggello and last season’s Gucci items can be bought here for 50% less. The outlet is known as The Mall and also includes clothing by Agnona, Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Giorgio Armani, Salvatore Ferragamo, Sergio Rossi, Stella McCartney, Valentino, Yohji Yamamoto and Yves Saint Laurent. You can get a bus there from the Sita bus station located in Via Santa Caterina da Siena in the centre of Florence. It is also possible to get the Florence-Rome train and get off at Rignano station where it is possible to get a taxi to the outlet.
The McArthur Glen Barberino Designer Outlet is located right at the motorway exit of Barberini del Mugello and consists of a complex of over 100 stores offering a wide range of top quality well-known brands at discounted prices, up to 70%. It is only 30km away from Florence and well worth the half hour journey there. The outlet is situated in a pleasant natural environment in the Valle della Sieve designed to resemble a convincing Renaissance town. At Barberino you can choose from accessories, casual wear, children’s wear, electronics, leather goods, shoes, sportswear, menswear and lots of women’s wear! Whether you’re looking for ultra-fashionable shoes or beautiful lingerie you’ll find it here.