For many travellers, the opportunity to indulge in a little retail therapy is one of the most important and appealing aspects of the trip – and holidays in Tuscany are no different. While the famous Italian region is all about art, history and culture, for the dedicated shopper it also means leather, handcrafted jewellery, ceramics, hand-milled soap, the choicest food delicacies – and the list goes on! After all, some of the world’s best-known (not to mention most exclusive and expensive) brands built their empires here, including Gucci, Pucci, and Ferragamo. Below we list a few places that are guaranteed to make the shopaholic salivate – whether to spend or simply window shop and dream.
The Gucci Museum in Florence
Everybody loves bags, and what better reason to buy a new piece of luggage or arm candy than your holidays in Tuscany? It was the glamour and adventure of travel that first inspired Guccio Gucci to create his glorious pieces, and they are still widely available and much sought after. Displayed in this wonderful museum are some of the most stylish and iconic of his lines from over the years. You can drool (although not literally) over purses, suitcases and trunks that have made this iconic label what it is today.
The Ferragamo Store and Shoe Museum in Florence
You’re going to need to pack some great shoes as you’re sure to do a lot of sightseeing during your holidays in Tuscany, but if you’re in the market for some more, you won’t be short of opportunities! It may surprise shoppers to learn that the flagship Ferragamo store, in Palazzo Spini in Florence, is still in the same location as the original store built by Salvatore Ferragamo in 1936. Ferragamo was the first celebrity shoe designer and maker, fashioning shoes for such famous – and sometime infamous – clients as Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, and Ingrid Bergman. Known for the elegance, creativity and innovation of his designs, Ferragamo reportedly chose Florence as his base due to its reputation for leather craftsmanship. Check out the museum for examples of his best inventions and innovations, before indulging yourself in a pair – or two!
The Craft Market in Lucca
High-priced and haute couture pieces can make a shopper giddy with delight, but finding unique and one-of-a-kind pieces at a craft market or haggling with a merchant in the local street market can just be as much fun. In the craft market in the gorgeous walled town of Lucca, you can find everything from soap made from locally harvested olive oil, to Renaissance-style majolica (earthenware), to hand-tooled and hand-stitched leather and handcrafted jewellery. For a unique souvenir or memento of your trip, pick up some beautiful wooden kitchen implements, such as bowl or cutting boards made from olive wood – they’ll give you decades of use and you’ll remember your trip every time you get them out.
The San Lorenzo Mercato Centralle in Florence
You’ll fall in love with plenty of incredible gastronomic delights during your holidays in Tuscany. Fortunately, you won’t have trouble finding local ingredients and delicacies to make your own at the San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale. A traditional market in the centre of the city, you’ll find everything you could ever want, such as different meats (including wild boar), fowl and fish, cheese, salami, dried porcini and, of course, lashings of wine and olive oil. Stalls outside the market also sell leather goods, clothing and other souvenirs. These markets are only open in the mornings, but they’re well worth getting up early for!