Whenever I go to any city, I love to check out the local markets - from the flower markets to the food markets. Another place I always try to visit is a grocery store. It's a great way to find different/unusual souvenirs, pick up the makings for lunch, or just buy something you have tried and liked in a particular place. Below are some places to shop:
Mercato Centrale located on the Piazza del Mercato - Tuscan products
Mercato delle Cascine located on Via A. Lincoln (on the banks of the Arno) - sells everything
Mercato delle Cure located on the Piazza delle Cure - authentic Florentine market (outside town)
Mercato Nuovo located on Via Por Santa Maria - leather, souvenirs, hand-embroidered work, Il Porcellino is here
Mercato delle Plante located on Via Pelliceria - flowers and plants (under a portico by the post office - good place to head when the rain starts)
Mercato della Pulce located on the Piazza dei Ciompi - flea market, antiques, knick knacks
Mercato San Lorenzo located on the Piazza di San Lorenzo - leather bargains, clothes, fruits/vegetables/food is located in the covered portion of the market
Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio located on the Piazza Ghiberti - fruits and vegetables
Mercato di Santo Spirito located on the Piazza Santo Spirito - sells everything, is flea market on certain weekends
Esselunga - Via Masaccio, Via del Ginoro
Conad - Via L. Alamanni, Via dei Servi
Coop - Via Salvia Cristiani
Standa - Via Pietrapiana
Beware of the street sellers offering fake designer clothes, purses, sunglasses, etc. (unless you want that). Located around the city - many near the Duomo.
What to buy: Leather, Wine, Italian Sweets
We were taken there by our tour company. In this shop you find all kinds of souvenirs, bags, suitcases, clothing, jewlery, etc. Prices were high, I can't lie, but they have very nice stuff.
I bought an apron for my mom, it was very cute but expensive (7€)
There are several little souvineer kiosks in Florence, and they seem to be concentrated near the leather market and the other must-see attractions. Along the road you can find these merchants selling all sorts of odds and ends that at first glance seem like the same junk to be found in every other city you visit. However, slow down and take a look!
The merchants are extremely friendly (or maybe they're just extremely friendly to young, blonde American girls) and are more than willing to barter for sale.
What to buy: My favorite souvineer from Florence is not the postcards, the leather jacket, or the junky 'Firenze' t-shirt. My best purchase, by far, is the little leather bracelet that I bought from one of these street venders. They're cheep, durable (mine lasted a year without having taken it off, if I remember correctly), and they represent Florence in a unique way.
What to pay: The bracelet I bartered with the merchant for was priced at 8 euros, and with a bit of smiling and a promise to be his American girlfriend (sure, buddy, whatever you say...) I got two bracelets for 3 euros.
Along the street you have all sorts of goodies you can bring home. But be wary as some of these items are overpriced. Talk the guy selling you items down if they won't move the price go to another shop, they will. It is becoming more of a problem of illegal immigration and they will sell you items cheap also, but if you buy the fake Gucci bag you may not be able to get it through certain airports as they check for these things.
What to buy: Paintings, Pictures, Crystal, WINE!
What to pay: I would say bring at the very least 100Euro just to buy your self "keepsakes"
Street vendors line the street that do not allow any automotive traffic to go down. You can get some of your best deals here. I bought scarves for souvenirs at €3.00 a piece. What a deal!
What to buy:
Pinocchio, keychains, magnets, calendars... yawn
Souvenirs worth buying would be: fancy olive oil, dried coloured pasta/rice, grappa and Tuscan wine.
Might be cathegorized as a tourist trap,
but my 7 year old enjoyed the thrill of being a model for the caricature drawer.
The result was worthwhile, and nice to keep as a memory.
What to pay: 10 Euro