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This list contains my favorite shops and/or shopping experiences in Florence - it will also give you tips on transportation, bargaining, etc.
The Mall is one of the best outlets outside of Florence - it's approximately 45 minutes outside of Florence in a town called Leccio. This is truly an outlet mall where you have last seasons' fashions and accessories at 40% (or more) less than retail stores. There are also classic pieces that can be found at the stores.
The stores include: Gucci, Tod's, Armani, AX Jeans, Ferragamo, Fendi, Burberry, Balenciega, etc. I love Tods and Gucci - just to give you an idea, a pair of Tods' loafers are 130-Euros while Tods purses are around 400-500 Euros.
To get there, you can choose one of 4 options:
(1) Caftours.com provides a shopping tour on certain days that will take you to the Prada outlet in Montevarchi and the Mall (cost: 21-Euro pp)
(2) SITA bus from the main bus station in Florence provides scheduled times to/from the Mall (cost: 4-Euro pp each way)
(3) Special bus ordered from the Mall's management by emailing them at email@example.com (cost: 25-Euros pp, minimum 2 pp)
(4) take train to Rignano Sull' Arno and then, a taxi to the Mall (cost: 4-Euros for the train pp, plus 10-Euros taxi). The least recommended option is the train because I didn't see any taxis that would take you to the Mall.
If you love to shop, this is a MUST because I always find great stuff here. But you have to love designer gear and don't mind spending designer prices minus the 40-50% off retail prices.
On the Ponte Vecchio near the Duomo side of the river, there is a jewelry store that specialises mostly in gold. Although the storefront seems quite modest compared to the other stores, the pieces are good quality and reasonable in price. As a result, the owner will not really bargain with you. However, on our previous visit, we bought a few pieces from him and were able to get him to provide us a small discount.
If you live outside the EU, you can get tax back. Or if you are able to pay in cash.
The store is about the 3-4 store on the right-hand side of the bridge as you cross over the Arno river.
This store near the Ponte Vecchio on Borgo San Jacopo (56r) specialises in old, antique prints that are beautifully framed (or not). The prints date back to the 1500s, but the older they are and the better condition ones can be quite pricey. If you are into antique maps and map illustrations, this is a great place to find quality items.
Unfortunately, the store does not offer tax free for non-EU residents.
(Via Santo Spirito 62r, 055-212-428) This is a cobbler who makes both men and women's shoes and sandals. He has a workshop in the back of the storefront where he makes the shoes. It is so cool to see a craftsman at work and know that your footware was handmade.
(Via dei Fossi, 7/r) This antique store has nice pieces of antiques that would look very shabby chic in most homes. There were some beautiful prints and birdcages, plus furniture. We picked up a framed Max Beerbohm caricature of John Singer Sargent from the early 1900s for 60-Euros. Great store for furnishings.
This ceramic store near the Central Mercado and the Medici Chapel also has an outdoor stall. The store has all kinds of pieces for the house, ranging from plates to pitchers to candlesticks. The best buy are the ceramic olive oil bottles that make great gifts - the nicer ones range from 35-euros to 80-euros.
They do offer tax free, which would nearly cover the shipping cost if you were to ship to the US. If you're buying a couple of pieces, I would try to bargain it down to 10% or more. [Tip: your're likely to get a better discount if you happen to be there when the guy is working rather than the lady - I believe that they are cousins and their families own the store.]
This was recommended to me by a friend, who visited Florence many years ago. She said that she and her sister met the owner of the store who happened to do a lot of the work there. In fact, he took them downstairs to show them his workshop.
Anyway, the store carries every silver item imaginable (utensils, silveware, jewelry, cufflinks, etc.). I've bought both jewelry and cufflinks from Mr.Petruzzi. Recently, I found a silver store near me in London (Howard Jones) who carries Mr.Petruzzi's stuff but costed a lot more.
Mr.Petruzzi is one of those old artisans from Florence! I don't know that he does much of the work anymore, but I like buying from shops like this more than the bigger department stores where everything is machine-made and not as personal.
Petruzzi's is at the other end of the Ponte Vecchio bridge from the Duomo. In fact, as you are cross the bridge from the Duomo side, his is the last store on the right.