Ponte Vecchio, Florence
I have always heard that the gold shops on the Ponte vecchio were very expensive. I don't wear gold myself but I was checking out a piece of silver marcasite that was very pretty and very old and I think it was only 35 euro. I should have bought it but I did not.
What to pay: As much as you want.
A lot of visitors to Florence take pictures of the Ponte Vecchio, but don’t go and see the many shops on the bridge. It is worth a look around. Mostly the businesses are Jewellers and I have to admit it was way beyond my budget, but you don’t have to buy anything. It is said that the practice of ‘Bankruptcy’ was invented here. The Italian words ‘il banco’ meaning sellable goods were combined with the word ‘rotto’ meaning broken. Combined they are: banco-rotto (bankrupt). In practice merchants used to have their tables broken into pieces if they could not pay their debts. No table = not able to sell anything, so no money. You can also get some great views of the River Arno from the middle of the bridge. Rowboats are frequently seen going under the bridge as well.
What to buy: You can buy mostly jewelery along the Ponte Vecchio. There are a few stalls that sell postcards and magazines as well as gelatto shops. I found there were many areas to shop near the Duomo and along the market near San Lorenzo. Florence is known for its leather products and there are many fine shops that sell leather bound books with machine or hand made paper. The market also sells many different kinds of local goods from olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or other produce. Depending on the time of year of your visit, you may also find some seasonal markets, like those found in front of Santa Croce.
Even if you are not shopping for gold, take the time to experience the Ponte Vecchio. Visit the statue in the middle, and the pigeon on its head, watch the river roll by, look at the tourists from around the world.
Although I've indicated jewelry, this tip actually pertains to any specific shopping in Italy or anywhere. KNOW the product well before you shop. That might take only a run by a high-end store to check prices of similar items; perhaps even some quick price checks via the web. On the other hand, when considering antiques and vintage jewelry, you must be very well educated on the subject. Whether diamonds or simply marcasite, it's still essential to know the material v. ordinary glass, and to be able to evaluate the settings (style, material and what was used in any particular period). Marcasite is very inexpensive at any time, so only validation of age can cause fluctuation of cost, and the piece should still be quite inexpensive.
The same familiarity would apply to leather, china, or any product requiring an 'investment.'
What to buy: I have priced expensive leather goods here jn the U.S. -such as Bottega -and found it cheaper in Italy before the rise of the Euro. Recently (this summer) it was almost the same, some items more costly. Same with Herand china and gold. The best things to buy in Florance - or anywhere in the world for that matter - are the things you cannot buy anywhere else, such as the amazing, but costly micro-mosaic tiles. They are truly remarkable and special.
What to pay: VERY expensive. A quality piece, about 6" X9" framed, would average over $16K.
The Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) is famous for all the jewelry shops all lined up near one another; originally these were butcher shops and stinky tanneries, but they used to throw away their scraps in the river hence polluting it, so they put a stop to this and now lots of gold can be found here! Cosimo I opted for the glittery stuff rather than gore. The choice is endless and I wouldn't know where to start from... good luck!
There's a bust in the middle of the bridge of Benvenuto Cellini, the most famous Florentine blacksmith, placed here in 1900.
What to buy: All sorts of jewelry; lovely stones, gold, silver in all shapes, forms and sizes.
There are beautiful variety of designs from all over the world. You should atleast give a few minutes to look at them. They are ....... :->
What to buy: Gold ? :-)
What to pay: Euros in hundreds may be in thousands ? :-)
in my opinion all the shops along ponte vecchio are hideously overpriced. there are other stores in florence where you can go to where you can get a better price.
I'm not sure if the best deals can be found on the Ponte Vecchio, but it's worth a trip across this famous bridge just to see some of the old shops that fortify it.
I would definitely recommend that if u can afford buying jewellry then u must do some shopping here. Its fantastic. Amazing!!!
What to buy: Only Jewellry.
What to pay: A lot of Euros.