High School Study Abroad

Florence, Italy - About the City - Shopping

Shopping Districts | Tax Free Shopping | Outdoor Variety Markets | Gifts and Souvenirs

Florence offers an amazing variety of shopping, from tourist items in the outdoor markets to the finest in fashion at boutiques. The Institute itself is located in the heart of the wealthiest shopping district of the city.

Shopping Districts

Florence is home to some of the world's finest shopping.
Florence is home to some of the world's finest shopping.

Five major shopping thoroughfares are: Il Corso, Via Por San Maria, Via Calzaiuoli, Via Tornabuoni, and Via della Vigna Nuova. Via Tornabuoni and Via della Vigna Nuova, the Rodeo Drive of Florence, are world-famous shopping streets lined with Gucci, Prada, Ferrgamo, Enrico Coveri, Dolce e Gabbana, Versace, and Armani.

It is always fun to stroll through the streets and window shop. Very few Italians walk by a window without looking. Within days, you will find yourself looking from side to side, from store to store.

Tax Free Shopping

Italian law entitles all non-European Union residents to an I.V.A. Tax Refund. I.V.A. is a value added tax for European consumers that is already included in the prices you see on the price tags.

Since U.S. citizens are taking the merchandise out of the European market and are not European taxpayers, this I.V.A. value added tax (approximately 20%) can be refunded. The minimum purchase is €150 in the same shop.

The procedure for tax-free refund varies from store to store. Some stores may have paperwork that will require stamps from customs agents at the airport the day of your departure, whereas others may offer the discount that can be received at a local money exchange office. Finally, some merchants may decide to deduct the 20% immediately from the price of the item, eliminating the laborious task of filing for the tax refunds.

Outdoor Variety Markets

San Lorenzo is a favorite market among study abroad students.
San Lorenzo is a favorite market among study abroad students.

If you like shopping outdoors and searching for treasures in markets, there are five markets worth visiting.

San Lorenzo
Perhaps the most famous outdoor market in Florence, located around the Church of San Lorenzo. Many items, ranging from leather to ceramics, cater to tourists.

The Cascine Park
Visit the park where Florentines enjoy recreational activities amidst the enormous trees and a vast lawn area. Every Tuesday morning the park hosts a mile-long market where you can find anything from fresh produce to discounted fashion. During special events and holiday seasons, such as the four Sundays before Easter, the Cascine will host the mile-long market.

Rub the nose of Il Porcellino (on the right) for good luck.
Rub the nose of Il Porcellino (on the right) for good luck.

Porcellino Market
Traditional Florentine crafts (leather, lace, etc.) as well as tourist items. Also known as the Straw Market in the Piazza del Mercato Nuovo. Named affectionately for Il Porcellino, a bronze sculpture of a wild boar, that brings good fortune to those who rub his nose.

Piazza Santo Spirito
Every morning in the beautiful Piazza Santo Spirito, vendors sell produce, used and new clothing, and items for the home. On the second Sunday of the month, the Piazza comes alive with an antiques market.

Piazza dei Ciompi
The stands sell antiques and collectibles typical of those found at a flea market. From 9:00 A.M. - 1:00 P.M. daily and the last Sunday of the month.

Gifts and Souvenirs

Everyone from home wants you to bring them back a "little something" from Florence. Here are a few suggestions from A to Wine!

Art
Artists sell original watercolor paintings of the most memorable views of Florence. You can find their stands near the Duomo, Santa Croce, the Uffizi Gallery, and the Pitti Palace.

Biscotti is Italian for 'twice cooked.'
Biscotti is Italian for "twice cooked."

Biscotti
Cantuccini or Biscotti from Prato are the most famous and are sure to please. Buy your biscotti in a box for added security for the trip home.

Chocolate by Perugina
The Baci (kisses) Perugina are Italy's most famous chocolate treat. The individual candies come with a poetic verse.

Designer accessories
A small Prada wallet may be just the gift for that special someone.

Eighteen karat gold
The gold craftsmanship in Florence is world-renowned. For the widest selection of treasures, try the Gold Corner at Piazza Santa Croce, 15r.

Florentine stationery
True Florentine stationery design consists of decorative flower motifs and borders. These reproductions are based on original illuminated manuscripts from the 15th century. The stationery is sold throughout the San Lorenzo Markets. Easy to pack!

The Giglio is the symbol of the city of Florence.
The Giglio is the symbol of the city of Florence.

Giglio
The symbol of the city, from the time of the Roman foundations of Florentia to the present day, is the Giglio. This symbol, very similar to a French fleur-de-lys, is a flower that has been both likened to a lily and an iris. The Florentine Giglio sprouts two extra pistols between the leaves. A gold charm of the Giglio or a leather journal with the city's symbol is a fine memento of this great city.

Hand-crafted leather gifts
Florentine leather workmanship offers you the opportunity to shop for just about everyone and in any price range. For a lovely demonstration of how the artisan's apply the gold gilding to the leather, visit the Leather School located in the Church Santa Croce behind the area of the sacristy.

Italian soccer jerseys
La Fiorentina, the city's soccer team, wears bright purple jerseys with a red Giglio as the team's symbol.

Kitchen utensils
From the sleek look of ALESSI utensils to a wooden spaghetti dose measurer, you will be able to bring home a unique gift. Italian housewares can be found in the basement floor of the Coin department store on Via Calzaiuoli.

Brunello di Montalcino is Tuscany's most famous wine.
Brunello di Montalcino is Tuscany's most famous wine.

Name/charm bracelets
Everyone in Florence (male and female, young and old) wears the "name bracelet." The bracelet is made of stainless steel and the letters are of 18 kt. gold. There are symbols and icons that you can choose to decorate the band from the Italian flag to the Florentine Giglio. Available in most jewelry stores.

Wine
The red wine from the Chianti region, Gallo Nero (Black Rooster), makes a wonderful, though heavy, gift to bring home. Tuscany's most famous wine is the Brunello di Montalcino.

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