The Scuola di Cuoio is located in the historic church of Santa Croce, where Michelangelo and many other famous Florentines are buried. It really is a school: they teach the fine craft of making leather garments, purses, & various accessories, which are sold on the premises. Apparently because of the educational nature of the business, you will save significantly on leather goods of the very highest quality. They also offer tours of the workshop.
What to buy: This is the place if you are bent on getting a top-quality Italian leather coat. It won't be dirt cheap, but it will be very, very much less than a comparable garment stateside or even in the designer shops in Italy. Furthermore, if you're staying in Florence and have the cash, you can have one custom-tailored. More economical purchases include purses of various sizes, accessories like wallets, etc., but perhaps the most unique items are the old-fashioned leather boxes, ideal for jewelry boxes (tuck in something gold from the Ponte Vecchio & she'll love you forever). The small accessories like eyeglass cases, change purses, etc. are downright cheap so you can stock up on authentic & truly useful souvenirs.
What to pay: Ready-made coats: about 400 euro + up depending on design
Small leather accessories: about 10-15 euro
A large leather outlet with a variety of jackets, purses and wallets. Caesar was extremely helpful (and big on flattery) in helping my friend get the perfect jacket. They do on the spot tailoring for the "fits like a glove" result. Be prepared to bargain, bargain, and bargain some more!
What to buy: Leather products
What to pay: Less than half of the marked price
This small shop near Santa Croce has many styles and colors of leather coats, bags, and scarves and other accessories. The owner has worked in the shop since he was a child, learning the craft from his father. They definitely have the sales pitch down, but the prices, quality and friendliness make this shop much better than many others. We gladly selected our two leather coats and parted with a very good deal.
They also have a factory showroom outside of Florence.
What to buy: leather coats, purses, belts, shoes, luggage
What to pay: $200-300
Giorgio made Giorgio's special. The owner helped my friend and I pick out some leather jackets that he designed and made with super-soft leather. He was helpful and funny. He spoke really great English, which made bargaining with him easier. Since both of us bought a jacket, he sold 'em to us for $180 each.
What to buy: Leather jackets
What to pay: Below $200
Lily of Florence was a great find. Being a shoe lover I was impressed with the quality of the shoes at reasonable prices. The service was excellent and family run.
What to buy: Leather, Shoes, Handbags, Art Crafts
What to pay: $125
I bought the BEST bag at Monom, bags and accessories near the San Lorenzo Market. Giorgio, the owner, was delightful, and gave me a HUGE discount on my bag. I was on a student budget, and needed a good deal. I definately got it. Giorgio was so much fun, that I went back to visit before I left Florence. If you EVER get a chance to visit the shop, don't miss out! Borgo la Noce 15r, Florence, 50123 (next to the San Lorenzo Market and close to the Central Market).
What to buy: Bags, Bags, and MORE BAGS! All leather goods. Florence is FAMOUS for it's leather goods. Check out the San Lorenzo Market for good deals.
What to pay: It depends on the item, quality, style, and mark. You can start at 20 euro and go up past 400 euro for a high quality leather bag.
Besides art and culture, Florence is one of the leading leather manufacturer in whole of Italy. There excist very long tradition of manufacturing leather shoes, bags, belts or garments here in Florence where skillfull craftmen preparing leather to be softer and lighter then on other Italian markets. Vero cuoio di Firenze is their trade-mark.
Mercato is open every day, sunday including, from 9 to 19 hours.
What to buy: I'd suggest belts or leather jackets, which aren't of lower quality then those at Mercatino del Porcellino but cost less money.
What to pay: Be ready to play the game with the sellers because they know their job very well. Burgain is a must and the final price depend on how much one was persistent and skillfull in targeting the prices.
In the Piazza Santa Croce there are AMAZING leather and jewelry shops. Yes, we ended up spending the $100s but it was well worth it and has more than retained its value and use. The jewelry and leather planner I bought have not tattered whatsoever and it's been 2+ years now.
Definitely worth the while!!!
What to buy: Leather and Jewelry
Olive Oil and Wine are also great items here!
What to pay: $100s if you don't watch yourself!!
I cannot imagine visiting Florence without emerging overloaded with leather goods, especially bags. I've been to Florence twice now and both times came home with new luggage (which I then gave to family as gifts...). Between the many designers and the street markets (which no doubt get some inspiration from the designers) this is shopping heaven.
I was on a mission. I was looking for a leather jacket and I didn't want to spend too much. My advice to you would be to avoid the fashionable streets around the Duomo. The prices are bound to be much higher in these shops. Your best bet is to head over the the area around Piazza del Santa Croce or the area around San Lorenzo. I bought a beautiful leather jacket for about $250 (it would cost more than $500-$800 in the States).
The Leather School attached to Santa Croce is very well known. It was founded after the Second World War to provide war orphans with a trade from which a living could be made. Much later, this social welfare program expanded to inamtes at Murate prison and in juvenile detention facilities. Today, training in leather goods continues, and tourists and visitors to Florence can take advantage in one of the short courses available -- what a souvenir, to bring home a leather book cover you've made yourself! Of course, at 190 euros plus the 20% VAT, you may be better off just buying one.
Goods crafted in the Leather School are sold in La Bottega. A wide variety of small goods are available, and if you wish to have something gold-stamped, it can be done while you wait. There are also lovely coats and even furniture available.
Certainly you will be able to find less-expensive leather goods in Florence. But isn't it nice to provide a benefit to a School which began with such a social mission?
What to buy: I loved the men's belts, but all the leather goods were beautiful -- I purchased a jewelry roll for my daughter-in-law and was thrilled to learn that I could have her initials stamped into the buttery-soft leather.
What to pay: Exquisite hand-made goods are expensive. That jewelry roll ran more than $100.00.
FERI s.a.s is a small leather goods shop selling leather wallets and an incredible assortment of leather handbags. The saleswoman gave me an big discount on a lambskin handbag I brought there. I only spent a little over a hundred dollars on it. She was incredibly friendly, persuasive, and showed me with a cigarette lighter how real leather doesn't burn again and again! She also gave me tips on how to care, condition, and moisturize my leather handbag for life. I recommend all women interested in genuine leather handbags to check it out. While the prices in store shops are higher than the ones on the street. Keep in mind that you are paying a higher price for much better quality and being assured it's genuine cowskin or lambskin. The ones sold on the street markets are not only of much lower quality leather it's either fake or made of pigskin.
What to pay: 70 euros and up
Visit the San Lorenzo piazza for amazing shopping! Practice your negotiating skills, and be prepared to visit multiple shops for the best deal.
What to buy: Leather - Bought two beautiful jackets.
Candy - Our family loved the dolci di Firenze!
Gold - Always a classic - Visit the shops on the Ponte Vecchio.
What to pay: Prices vary, but you may be able to negotiate.
Florence is a great place for leather. Shoes, purses, jackets...basically anything you could want. The outdoor markets definately have some great deals. Just don't go for the original price on the tag. Always try to bargain down. And definately shop around. Most vendors have the exact same item as the vendor three stalls down. And hey you can always come back right? Most places will offer lower prices for cash.
Roberta's has a glove shop adjacent to their leather bag shop. They leather gloves in all varieties. They have a range of sizes, designs and colours. You can also choose the type of lining you want e.g. unlined, silk or cashmere. (silk is good for most weather conditions, although cashmere is nice for really cold climates.) The staff are very helpful.
the shop is south of the Arno, so there are less crowds, although this shop seems to be gaining popularity.
What to pay: 20-50 euros