For the Kitchen, Florence
If you're lucky enough to have an apartment with a refrigerator or a hotel room in the spring or autumn where you can store food on a window ledge to keep it cool, then of course, one of the best ways to experience the local flavor, to drink in the culture, is to shop locally for food!
We shopped at our local supermercato, Sapori & Dintorni Conad, for groceries. Very nice place. You could easily while away a few hours looking at the various Florentine goods.
What to buy: Ah, yes! What to get? First things first, you MUST try the blood orange juice. Also, wine & Prosecco are also good choices as you'll be fairly amazed at the low cost to procure these goods. Vino - isn't that *why* you came to Italy in the first place?!?!
We also shopped for deli meat (sliced salami and prosciutto) and cheeses - mmmmm! And yogurt. AND lemon soda (something we fell in love with!)!!
What to pay: I can't recall exactly what we paid but I do remember they were good prices.
I don't have any doubts wheter to buy food in a small shops or big discount centres, small quarter's shop is definatelly my choice. Truth is, such a shops might looking overcrowded with merchandise and almost immense, but its exactly what making them more charming. Yes, we need eyes to see but in such a shops what we need much more is good nose (flair of hunting dog is required).
What to buy: Fresh bread or panino, salami (I suggest mortadela), pecorino cheese (sheep cheese from Tuscany), dark oiled olives, and it will make the best sandwich one can imagine. A quarter of white dry wine to drink.
What to pay: Can't say exactly but could cost 5 or maybe 10 euros.
Ceramica Lorenzaccio is the outlet store in Firenze for a local ceramics factory. It is a short walk from the Ponte alla Carraia or the San Maria Novella square.
What to buy: Their ceramics are hand made and hand painted in the colorful tuscan and umbrian majolica style. They offer single pieces or entire table sets. We were there in May 2009 and bought a single bowl from the shop lady who is part of the family that owns the factory. She said we can add similar pieces and they even make to order to complete sets.
What to pay: Our bowl pictured is 9.5"x11.5" and cost 62 euros. That may sound high, but we see it as a work of art and a beautiful memory of our visit to Florence.
Located in a huge, sprawling wherehouse, go up to the second floor and you'll find one of the largest and most amazing fruit and vegetable markets you'll ever come across. An incredible selection of fruits and vegetables. In the spring and summer the selection is most impressive. This is ground zero for the Chez Pannise crowd -- and that's not a bad thing!
What to buy: You can buy almost any type of fruit and vegetable you can imagine. Even if you aren't staying at an apartment with a kitchen, buy some fruit to take back to your hotel room. It really doesn't get any better than this. In the late Autumn you can find an large selection of mushrooms and truffles.
What to pay: Prices are reasonable, and much less than you would find at most gourmet markets back home.
I like cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, so this shop was a great find!
I can also be a bit of a gadget man for kitchen equipment. This place has just about everything.
Local tuscan pottery also available.
What to buy: Pasta making and cutting equipment.
Chocolate and sweet moulds.
Coffee making equipment.
What to pay: Average (I think!).