In Italy ……and to be honest, I love shopping anywhere!
Is an Intervention in order?
Enough about food! For today’s post anyway! Time to talk about my other great love or addiction as some may describe it. The guilty pleasure many of us are obsessed with. True converts follow the seasons religiously and scour the streets searching for their latest hit. Of course, personal finances limit me from succumbing to this drug as deeply as I desire but that doesn’t stop me from walking the cobbled streets and drooling over the latest merchandise.
This drug is called Fashion! That’s with a capital F as I must pay her the due respect that she so well deserves. I first got a taste for Fashion when I was quite young. Growing up as an identical twin, I strove to stand out and show my individual identity by the layers and textures I chose to wear. Some people just call these layers clothes but I choose to call them Fashion.
In my teens any money earned was quickly traded in for the fashion of the moment. Looking back at old photos, I shouldn’t have bothered with some purchases and I probably could have saved enough for a deposit on a house but the lure of Fashion is so much more a tempting priority when you are young and impressionable. But then again maybe I’m still a little bit impressionable……… even if not so, so young anymore.
Living in Florence brings it’s own dangers for those suffering with this love for Fashion. If you are planning on going cold turkey from the Fashion drug, don’t even consider coming to Florence, let alone Italy or Europe for that matter.
I have a Masters Degree in window shopping, the methadone for the shopping addict. When desperate times have called, I have been known to cut my credit cards in two. For us true Fashionistas on a budget, we have acquired the skill of patience, waiting and yearning with feverish anticipation for news of that magic word – Sale, Saldi, 30, 40 & 50% Discount & Sconti!
Sometimes one must buy that timeless, classic, ‘If I don’t buy it now my life wont be worth living’ item at once, as the risk of missing out while waiting for the sales is unimaginable! In the lead up to that wonderful, inevitable sale day, I have been known to engage in covert operations in my favorite shops – casing the racks for the Fashion pieces that my wardrobe is lacking. I try on each style, ensuring I know my size before the sale date arrives so that when those stores open, I am there, ready like an eagle hunting it’s prey. I quickly walk past the racks grabbing my pre-selected styles while the rest of the competition are busy wasting time waiting for change rooms and trying on their bargain buys.
“So, Where do the locals shop in Florence?” you ask? For those with the trust fund, sugar daddy or just blessed with a black, platinum or unlimited credit card, Via De’ Tornabuoni is your street. Designer labels line this beautiful Via bordered by incredible Palazzi and starting at the river Arno end of the street you will find Salvatore Ferragamo at Via Tornabuoni n.2 in the historical and impressive Palazzo Spini Feroni.
Salvatore Ferragamo purchased the Palazzo Spini Feroni in 1938 as the headquarters of the company and his own workshop. The building was restored in 2000 and now proudly shows its masterpieces of seventeenth and eighteenth century Fiorentine art, including frescoes by Bernardino Poccetti in the chapel.
Apart from the retail shop, in the lower level is the Ferragamo museum where you can find samples from the vintage era of this legend.
The museum was opened to the public in 1995 by the Ferragamo family, in an effort to illustrate Ferragamo’s artistic qualities and the important role he played in the history of shoe design and international fashion. Besides photographs, patents, sketches, books, magazines and wooden lasts of various famous feet, the museum boasts a collection of draws 10,000 models designed by Ferragamo from the end of the 1920’s until 1960, the year of his death.
Further along Via Tornabuoni, you will find Armani, Prada, Pucci, Burberry, Gucci, Max Mara, Pomellato, Cavalli, Tods, Sergio Rossi and Bulgari who really do have some of the most gorgeous bags. At the other end of the Via Tornabuoni at Piazza Antinori is Ermanno Scervino who has come such a long way since the brand’s launch in the year 2000.
Turn left at Gucci and you will find Gianfranco Ferre dividing Via della Vigna Nuova and Via and Via della Spada. Via della Vigna Nuova is also worth a stroll as is lined with gorgeous stores – for those who forgot to pack your undies, this is where you will find La Perla, the Italiano lingerie label that is so exquisitely made. These sexy numbers that would make anyone feel like a supermodel. (on the inside anyway!)
By this stage, you’ll need a drink either to re-charge the batteries or recover from your spending. Stop at the Cavalli Bar, Giacosa for the best cappuccino in Florence or depending on the hour and if you prefer, a lovely aperitivo to celebrate your new Fashion acquisitions.
Opposite Gucci in via Tornabuoni is Palazzo Strozzi. Pass through this beautiful building (no time to look at the museum here while on the hunt for Fashion – save that for another day!) Louis Vuitton will welcome you as you exit Palazzo Strozzi and also located in this Piazza is Dolce & Gabbana. Next door to Louis Vuitton is Fendi.
After you have wiped the drool from the corners of your mouth, continue towards Piazza della Repubblica but be warned! If you have children in tow, they will expect to ride the vintage carousel – who could resist really?
Turn left on Via de’ Brunelleschi and pass Bar Paszkowski, the historic caffe that started life as a beer factory and over the years many literary elite were it’s regular customers. At Via De’ Pecori turn right, stop for a minute to admire the Duomo and then continue to Via Roma where you will find historical Florentine shopping landmark for shoes and apparel Raspini. A few doors along is the fashionista mecca, Luisa Via Roma where all your favorite brands and also some of the latest up and comings are merchandised here in all their designer splendor. Can’t quite find that bag or pair of boots you were looking for? Use the interactive touch screen displays in-store to search their online store. If you manage to tear yourself away from Luisa and still have the strength for some extra shopping bags, continue along Via Roma until you arrive at the decadent Miu Miu store on the corner of Via Tosinghi. Also in this side street is the opulent Valentino.
For lovers of Chanel, head to Piazza Signoria – tres chic – Merci beaucoup!
For those with the different colored credit cards (usually with a more depressing credit limit) do not fear as there are many other wonderful places where you can find wonderful fashion. Some of my favorite stores are the following :
Gerard Loft – Via dei Pecori, 34-40r Hip and casual location which is a must see research destination for all international buyers when visiting Florence. A mix of men’s women’s and kid’s apparel and shoes, visit here to see the latest big names in Fashion, both local and international.
Raspini – Via Roma 25r, Via Martelli 5r, Via Por Santa Maria 72/r and the recent Vintage store in Via Calimaruzza 17/R. All locations are situated centrally and each store deserves a visit. ‘A Charming atmosphere and qualified and friendly staff, the best designer brands and the latest trends in a constantly changing world of fashion, have made RAspini an empire of chic fashion for almost 40 years.’ Raspini has one of the best shoe collections in all of Florence.
Flow-Store – Via die Vecchietti 22r. Flow’s inviting interior with chocolate wooden floorboards, vintage appeal and upbeat music make for a great shopping experience. Their mix of apparel, shoe and accessory brands have all been selected with an expert and selective eye. They have a great representation of the gorgeous Italian brand L’Autre Chose plus authentic shoe brands, Frye, Bloch, TST and Buttero. Together with the jewelry, books and live DJ sessions every Saturday, Flow is more than a store, Flow is a Florentine lifestyle you will want to acquire.
And for us true struggling fashionistas, thank god for Zara and H&M that continue to offer contemporary fashion pieces at very affordable prices within our reach!
Florence is home to many other independent boutiques showcasing local talent, artisan trades and beautiful, tempting treasures. The beauty of this city is it’s compact ‘centro’ making it easy and a pleasure to walk around. If you take the time to explore her narrow streets, cross over the Ponte Vecchio to the Oltrarno, you will discover many hidden jewels.
Here are some photos of the beautiful designer windows on display in Florence at the moment.