The Insider's Guide To Shopping In Florence

Photo: Courtesy of Raspini.
Milan may be famous for its place on the international fashion calendar, but for many, the real home of Italian style is Florence. With the amount of artisanal shoemakers, historic leather markets, and bespoke clothing shops that line the Tuscan city’s medieval streets, it’s not hard to see why. Legendary Italian luxury brands like Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Emilio Pucci, and Roberto Cavalli were all proudly founded in Florence, and those that weren’t — Prada, Armani, Missoni — all clamor to maintain major presences in the city’s fabled shopping quarters. But, don’t go thinking these standby brands are all you'll find: sleek, new concept shops; innovative boutiques; and young designer flagships abound, too. Not to mention Pitti, Italy's largest fashion trade show, which attracts editors (including us right now!) and visitors alike. Here, the top 10 shopping spots you’ve got to add to your next Italian itinerary.


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Photo: Courtesy of Luisa Via Roma.
Luisa Via Roma
Fashion fans have long known the charms of LuisaViaRoma.com; since its official launch in 2000, the slick e-commerce site has been a go-to for anyone who craves Armani as much as Yohji Yamamoto. So major is the retailer's online presence (the website attracted over 30 million uniques last year) that first-time visitors to Florence might be surprised to learn about its pretty epic brick-and-mortar store.

Located in the shadow of the city's Duomo, the three-floor, four-decade-old flagship is just as bright and shiny as its cyberspace counterpart — and maybe even more enticing. From the store's infamously eye-popping window displays to the Delfina Delettrez-filled jewelry cases to the shoe corner stocked with vertiginous Jimmy Choos, there's plenty to desire. And, with 80% of the store's stock devoted to Italian designers — big names and up-and-comers alike — there's also plenty to discover.

Luisa Via Roma, Via Roma 19-21r; 39-055-906-4116.
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Photo: Courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo.
Salvatore Ferragamo Flagship & Museum
Like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills or Fifth Avenue in New York City, Via de' Tornabuoni is the kind of street where you literally cannot look in either direction without seeing a major designer's flagship. Prada, Roberto Cavalli, Gucci, Fendi — the gang's all here. With the plethora of big-deal retail happening on this narrow street, it's hard to imagine that any one glittering shop could outshine the rest. That is, until you set eyes on the Salvatore Ferragamo store.

Housed in an imposing five-story medieval castle, the flagship looms over the others as if to say, "Don't even try." Purchased by Salvatore Ferragamo himself in 1938, the palace is a fitting home for the iconic, 90-year-old brand. Through the arched entrances and under an elaborately frescoed ceiling, you'll find a bigger collection of Ferragamo shoes, bags, and ready-to-wear than you ever thought possible; there's even a room dedicated to limited-edition reissues of the label's seminal pieces. And, though there are hundreds of historical brand photos and mementos positioned throughout the store's winding rooms, fashion buffs should be sure to visit the museum in the basement for a closer look at the native Florentine’s legendary body of work.

Salvatore Ferragamo Flagship & Museum, Piazza Santa Trinita 5r; 39 055 3562846.
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Photo: Courtesy of Gucci.
Gucci Museo & Icon Store
When Guccio Gucci opened a small leather goods store in his hometown of Florence back in 1921, he could never have known that nine decades later his namesake label would be the bestselling Italian brand ever. With over 400 Gucci stores worldwide, the brand is so ubiquitous that it might be easy to consider skipping a whole three-story museum devoted to the double Gs. Seen one horsebit loafer, seen 'em all, right? Not quite — this 3-year-old Museo is more sleek concept store than snoozy exhibit hall. Sure, you'll get to peep plenty of vintage photos and peruse the brand's archival ready-to-wear and accessories collections, but you'll also see items you never knew existed: wallpaper, surfboards, snorkels, picnic baskets, and a 1979 Cadillac whose interior is upholstered in the iconic GG red and green. If all this ignites the desire to get your hands on your own rare Gucci goodies, you're in luck. Along with a cafe, a Rizzoli bookstore, and a gift shop, the museum is also home to the Icon Store: a glossy boutique dedicated to limited-edition jewelry, scarves, bags, and accessories exclusive to this locale.

Gucci Museo & Icon Store, Piazza della Signoria 10; 39-055-7592-3302.
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Photo: Courtesy of Raspini.
Raspini
"The shoe that launched an era." That's the slogan employed by Raspini, one of Florence's most beloved luxury retailers. Originally opened as a small artisan shoe shop in 1948, the company has exploded into a globally recognized multi-brand department store with a pretty impressive roster of designers: Prada, Miu Miu, and Dolce & Gabbana are just a few of Raspini’s big-deal brands. The retailer's on-point merchandise mix and elegant aesthetic have proven such a winning formula that the company now has several locations throughout the city. Visit the recently renovated shop on Via Martelli near the Duomo (the original locale) for its stellar selection of the retailer’s eponymous shoe line, or visit Raspini Vintage on Via Calimaruzza for amazing prices on the previous season’s discounted designer stock.

Raspini, Via Martelli 5/7r; 39-055-239-8562.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Mall.
The Mall
Nestled in the rolling hills of Tuscany, The Mall isn't your average outlet experience — in fact, this insanely chic cluster of designer discount shops might just be as close to shopping Shangri-la as you can get. Not only is the list of luxury labels on offer pretty mind-blowing (Lanvin, Emporio Armani, Fendi, Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Saint Laurent, Ferragamo, Valentino, Stella McCartney, and more), the prices are pretty dreamy, too. Expect to find clothing, shoes, handbags, watches, and jewelry at 30 to 50% off regular price. Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time, though The Mall is only a 30-minute shuttle ride from Florence's city center, you won't want to feel rushed once you arrive. After all, the Prada and Dior stores are each two massive stories, and if you get through quick enough, you might also have time to swing by Space, Prada's standalone outlet 20 minutes away.

The Mall, Via Europa 8, 50066 Leccio Reggello; 39-055-865-7775.
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Photo: Courtesy of La Rinascente.
La Rinascente
La Rinascente is Italy's answer to the grand old department stores of London and Paris. And, just like those revered retail institutions — Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Printemps, Galeries Lafayette — La Rinascente offers pretty much everything a fashion fiend could want. Swing by the contemporary floor to browse the latest from cool-kid labels like MSGM, Otswald Helgason, and Markus Lupfer, then head to the designer level for a drool-worthy selection of Jil Sander, Mary Katrantzou, and Kenzo. If the six floors of shopping adventure (besides ready-to-wear, accessories, and beauty, the store also has sections dedicated to men's, children's, home, and specialty foods) don't leave you too exhausted, be sure to head to the building's rooftop restaurant. Its view of the Duomo at sunset is worth the trip alone.

La Rinascente, Piazza della Repubblica 3-5; 39-055-219-113.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marie Antoinette.
Marie Antoinette
What happens when a couple of stylists with impeccable taste and a keen eye for detail decide to open a secondhand shop? Rainbow-horned unicorns and shimmering-winged pegasi appear, of course. Okay, not really, but this sweet little shop located in a courtyard behind the Arno Hotel is pretty magical. Barely a year old, it’s already a favorite among Florentine vintage lovers. Absolutely everything in it — from the sleek, metal-box shelves to the quirky, antique furniture — feels like it was chosen with the utmost care. Naturally that extends to the merchandise: The printed Marni shifts, suede Proenza Schouler satchels, and jeweled Prada pumps are in top-notch condition, and the prices are pretty outstanding, too.

Marie Antoinette, Piazzetta Dei Del Bene, 6/5; 39-055-280-906.
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Photo: Courtesy of Aquazzura.
Aquazzura
You certainly aren't starved for options when shopping for shoes in Florence — the city has almost as many footwear boutiques as it does works of Renaissance art. The 2014 opening of Aquazzura's first standalone flagship store meant one more must-visit shoe shop to add to the list. Not that we're complaining. Some quality time with the brand's cut-out cage pumps, lace-up peep-toes, and fringed suede booties seems like a pretty great way to spend a few hours any day. And, a couple of hours is exactly what you might need. Not only does the Palazzo Corsini shop boast a crazy-gorgeous modern-meets-medievel interior, but it also stocks the entire Aquazzura collection and offers made-to-order services. Come to think of it, you may need all day.

Aquazzura, Lungarno Corsini 42r; 39-055-291-242.
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Photo: Courtesy of Bjork.
Bjork
Florence is probably the last place you'd expect to find a store like Bjork. With its Scandinavian-inspired aesthetic (think: clean-lined pale wood furniture, sans serif design, and industrial lighting), it's pretty much the antithesis of everything the Renaissance city is known for. Which, according to shop owner Filippo Anzalone, is exactly the point. After returning from several years abroad, the Florentine native decided that his hometown was in dire need of the type of concept shops he'd seen in London and Copenhagen. Nearly two years later, Bjork is known among the city's hippest denizens as the source for super-cool stuff you can't find anywhere else in town: Kinfolk magazine, Won Hundred clothing, and LRNCE drawstring bags.

Bjork, Via Dello Sprone 25r; 39-333-979-5939.
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Photo: Courtesy of Playground.
Playground
Playground stocks its fair share of straight-off-the-runway pieces from Marni, Dries Van Noten, and Comme des Garçons, but that doesn't mean the vibe is stuffy. Quite the contrary. At this well-known two-story boutique on a residential corner of Via Don Giovanni Minzoni, it’s all about simplicity — right down to the shop’s wood-paneled walls, concrete floors, and mega-high ceilings. The diverse range of brands that make up the women's selection — everything from L'Autre Chose to Golden Goose to Iro to J Brand — only helps solidify the store’s modern, downtown vibe.

Playground, Via Don Giovanni Minzoni, 31/A; 39-055-575-654.
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