I think MOST OF YOU KNOW I LIVED IN ITALY in the 1990’s.
It was NOT by choice but by NEED. Doing the right thing as my husband had sisters still at home and in High School.You see his FATHER passed a month before we married in 1986 and his MOTHER passed in 1991.
SO, we did what any young family would do we sold most of our belongings and packed up the BOYS to Move to FLORENCE to the BIG FAMILY HOME ON THE HILL.It was a BIG ADJUSTMENT for me but I did the best I could.I found a group of ENGLISH SPEAKING WOMEN with small children.The first playdate we met in a PARK. The world medical literature and emerging publications of https://www.xanalys.com/ambien-zolpidem-online-10-mg/ the authors in scientific journals confirm the relevance and importance of studying the directions of biotransformation of Ambien and the study of its metabolites and their derivatives for the needs of clinical diagnostic and chemical Toxicological analysis. The lady above sat across from me on a bench!She was from CALIFORNIA, Los Angeles to be exact and had gone to UC BERKELEY!THAT meant she was SMART as a WHIP.Oh, I prayed she would become my friend!I was so excited I remember telling THE ITALIAN about her!I HOPE SHE WILL BE MY FRIEND; I did not speak much ITALIAN at the time.
She had a son and a daughter……….the THIRD CHILD GAIA which means JOY came along later!(I had something to do with THAT! I did I really really did!)
Needless to say we became GOOD, GOOD FRIENDS and I still get to see her once in awhile when she comes to the STATES to see her CHILDREN NOW who are in the Santa Barbara and Los Angeles area!
FLORENCE FINDS BY MICHELLE FOLEY
THIS is a list by a woman I have NEVER MET but who I have spoken with on the PHONE ONCE and she knows a couple of people THAT I KNOW SO THAT COUNTS RIGHT?It’s been way too long since I have been to ITALY so I will let her lead the way!
KATHARINE speak up if you think otherwise or know a shop has since closed in the comment section!
Let’s have a FLORENTINE CONVERSATION!
SHARE your stories and or places of INTEREST!
I hope to HEAR FROM THESE THREE AS WELL AS THEY ARE THE REAL DEAL!
FLORENTINE BORN AND RAISED!!
CIAO TUTTI TRE!
VENGA A San Francisco VIENE A TROVARE ME PLEASE!
The shopping in Florence is the best on the planet. You will find so many interesting and wonderful shops that you will literally drop before you see it all! Shopping for clothing is expensive and cheaper in the US . There is an exception. To visit in January and I assume July), about the 2-3rd week of January, you will find all the fall and winter items between 70-85% off. They do not mess around with 20% then 30% then 40%.they go right to 70% off. I got a Missioni outfit (that would be a skirt, sweater, jacket and looooooooong scarf), that all matches and in my size for a total of $375.00. Since I am not a size two like you, I can’t even find the European clothes in the states that are in my size (50-52) that is only a 12-14 skinny. I also picked up some other Missioni scarves as that is my most fav European designer. But if you are not going in January or July, FORGET clothes. Look but don’t touch, unless you want to go broke. You will see the chicest women when you are out walking the city. Even the young girls are so fashionable.
Ok, lets get down to shopping!
This is a must! and go out of your way to see this place,
My most favorite place (store and it really isn’t your typical store) is called
Farmaceutica Di Santa Marie Novella Via della Scala 16r
From the name it sounds like a “drug store” but just you wait.
This is the most amazing “place”. It is kind of hard to find ( there is a laundry next door “La Serena”, Via della Scala 30 r, this is the best laundry in Florence by the way, so if you need something cleaned, they can do it in a few hrs) Keep looking for the store because it is not easy to find, I was right outside the front door ( a huge ancient wooden door) and I still could not find it. Anyway this place does not “look” like a store front because it really isn’t………it is a convent!!!!! The place is the most beautiful environment that you have EVER shopped in….you think you are walking into a cathedral, well I guess you actually are! Anyway the ceilings are a beautiful blue that is all gold guilted with high vaulted architecture. It is an old time (I’m talk’n the 16th century is when the monks opened it’s doors to sell their products) establishment that the monks make up the most unbelievable creams and potions! They have an almond cream that is the most heavenly cream that will ever touch your face. It is used by all of the beauty and fashion editors all over Europe and America. When I was in there the beauty editor of Vogue was in there with her “dog and pony show” buying out the place. The Italian fashion shows had just ended 2 days prior in Milan and she had to stop in and pick up a few essentials. I asked whythey don’t write about this in the magazines and she said “Dawling, it is too divine for the average woman” (oh get over yourself I was thinking!) All of their creams and lotions for the face, hands and hair are truly to DIE for (dawling). The sales girls are very good and will help you thru the products the only draw back is that their English is not so good. Here are the few things that I have picked up (and have reordered since my last visit). The first room that you come to (after walking thru this HOLY place is all of the scents. There are these long glass cases with everything you can imagine and every scent you could think up. The second room is candles and oil scents. The third or fourth room is all of the lotions (the last room you come to just keep walking). they also have a sales gal who will have one of the monks make you up an herbal preperation for any ailment that you might have..headaches, joint pains cramps, PMS, you name it. It is an old fashion (ya 600 years old) pharmacy with all of the different herbs and what ever they use in these potions. It is truly the most magical place you have ever been in. You would almost expect Harry Potter to turn up in one of the sales rooms. It is not cheap but you must splurge on the almond cream for your face, don’t get the almond paste, it dries out very fast. The soaps and body splashes are wonderful. MUST NOT MISS THIS as you will NEVER see a place like this anywhere else in the universe! Anyway… GO NUTS….get it? nuts, almonds HA HA.
OK know for the leather stuff My most favorite leather place is Umberto
Via Guicciardini 114r
It is on the other side of the Arno
the Ponte Vecchio and walk maybe 2,3,4 blocks? it is on the right side of the street. They are one of the suppliers for my great New York bag place on 56th and 5th ave. He has the most beautiful bags and wallets in Florence (he has the great wallets that you and I love with the horse bit closure.) the belts are nice also. I think this is the BEST in the city and the prices, although they are not inexpensive…for the quality…..they are a great value. Umberto, if he is there and not at the factory, is the nicest Italian gentleman and very interesting to talk with! Enjoy it all! By the way, this is the store that the purse that you love of mine, came from!!!
My second favorite leather place is actually in a church (do you see a pattern here with the religious thing and purchasing?!?) Anyway this is a very famous “leather school” they have students that are in “school” for 7 years and the “teachers” are master leather craftsmen who are darling, ancient Italian men.
Scuola Del Cuoio
Piazza Santa Croce, 16 (through the church beyond the Sacristy to the right down a long hall) or you can enter thru the garden to the right of the churches main entrance.
River (Pitti side)…………if you walk over
You will want to visit this church anyway as it is one of the most important church in Italy .
This is actually a leather school where you can see and talk to all of the students working on leather goods. The teachers are right there as well and are all very friendly (more so if you speak the language but………….) they sell beautiful handbags, briefcases , luggage, wallets, belts and any and everything that can be made of leather including leather frames. They also have the very famous gold embossing on many items (sounds gross but they are pretty.) All of the items that are for sale are made by the craftsmen and NOT the students, so don’t think you might get a bag that doesn;t open or will fall apart. None of these items are sold to retail stores so if you like it buy it there, because you will not see it anywhere else. This is a fun place to go and I actually bought several bags there………..but I did sooooooooooo much more damage to the Visa card at Umberto’s.
My next leather shop is right on the Arno River near the Ponte Vicchio
Da Firenze leather factory
Lungarno Acciauoli, 64r
They have very nice bags and the least expensive of the 3 spots…..Lots of styles like the Hermes, Birkin bag (that runs around $5000.00 if you are lucky enough to be called from the waiting list)! I got 2 of them (trust me, I did not and would not pay anything near that) I think theywere $300ish, and I wish I had purchased a few more. Great colors and different leathers. A friend of mine has THE Hermes Birkin bag ($2500.00) (OK so she has more money then brains). We compared them inside and out, hardware and leather and we could not find a difference except for the gold stamped “Hermes” under the flap?!? (she was pissed) HA HA. Love this place
There are “little ” (they are very small) glove stores scattered across the city. They all look alike and maybe owned by the same person, but the styles are chic, classic and funky. Anything that you want, they have. You will find the most incredible colors in these little works of art. You will pay anywhere from $50-150, but you will never find the same ones in the states.
OK enough of leather now on to paper.
You have seen this stuff, the beautiful Florentine paper, it is kind of marbleized. These shops are great for gifts to those back home, ranging from $5-20 as well as items for yourself.
They are all over town I think 5 or 6 different shops. There is one near the bag shop above that is right on the Arno but this one is the size of a closet (that would be a closet in an old home).
one address is
Piazza Del Duomo,24r,
I think this is the one I went to
GO WILD here! They have the most beautiful paper with leather bound books (Blank pages). I got a large one and put all of our photos in it. They have paper covered pencils, journals, address books, boxes, picture frames ETC,ETC,ETC. More things then you could think of that are covered in this wonderful paper .
The second and largest Paper Emporium is
Via Parione, 10 russo Tel 055.215684
Via dello Studio 11 rosso Tel 055215030
This is my favorite paper place because the selection is very good. You really need to visit one of the paper stores, as this paper is exquisite and centurys old product produced only in Florence .
These are the most beautifully made hats that you will find on this planet.
There are a few stores around the city, check with the hotel for locations, as this a great place.
They have every kind of fedora that was ever made. They are packable and some are waterproof wool. They have all different fabrics and styles and any size that you need. The prices range from moderate ($100) to very $$$$$$$. Joe and I both got one, (mine is that black and white wool one that I wear)
For beautiful and the best prices in Florence (it is not a tourist trap like the stalls on the bridge
There is tons of GOLD in Florence . The place that was recommended to us is not on the street level and so much cheaper!
C.O.I. Wholesale jewellery Via Por S. Maria 8, 2nd floor 055283970 tel
OK, I don’t think you are getting true wholsale prices (only because you shouldn’t get it) but the prices are very good (please take into consideration that gold is high and our dollar is low)
It is close to the corner of Via Vacchereccia and Via Por S Maria maybe even on the corner and I don’t think it is marked very well so look around It is on the second floor so you are looking for a door not a store front.
Ask for Stefania. It is not fancy AT ALL, but with these prices who cares. LARGE ASSORTMENT OF 18 KT BRACLETS, NECKLACES, RINGS, PINS, CHAINS, MEDALS etc. I got a beautiful very heavy gold large link bracelet , looks like a Gucci link. I could have come home with 10 other items if I had the money!!!!! But you know me and jewelry!?! I will head back to this store/office the next time I visit on the first day!
Via Por S Maria 9-11r
It is right on the street that leads across the Ponte Vecchio about 4 store fronts
Ask for Mario and tell them that Marcella sent you. Don’t ask me just do it?!? One of the big things there is the “gold Firenze ” coin that many places sell. It is an old coin that was used in Florence several hundred years ago. They have reproduced them and set them in wonderful jewelry pcs. I got one for my gold coin charm bracelet. This is a nice rememberance of Florence . They have very classic designs here and as in all the jewelry shops they will size or make things up for you within hours?!? Crazy but true. The jewelry stalls on the Ponte Vecchio are mostly very high price but fun to look in the windows. I did get 2 antique gold seals for my other charm bracelet and I got a very good price but as you know I have been collection them for 25 years. The store is right on the corner of the Ponte Vecchio and the street that runs along the Arno river. All antique jewelry and family run, I don’t remember the name sorry.
The Straw Market is a great place to get pick-pocketed! So be aware. There is so much junk and counterfeit crap that they only thing worth going there for is to see the bronze statue of the HUGE boar. I think you are supposed to rub his nose for good luck……..maybe it is just the Italians telling all the dumb Americans that story so that we will keep him clean.?????
Side Trip well worth the $$$and time
A wonderful side trip is San Gimignano and Siena. We hired a private driver for the day (not cheap but worth it $400) SEE BELOW -He took us to both of these towns along with a few more sights that were incredible and we would never have visited if we had been on our own.
This is an incrediable hilltop village that is very medival and extremely charming.There is the most beautiful linen shop here. The shop is old rustic charm, the linens are beautiful!
di Calamassi Andrea
Via S. Matteo ,62
These linens and other items are made in Tuscany from beautiful 100% linen and woven by craftsmen in the ancient weaving tradition of the
region. The apron I gave you came from this shop! They have table linens, napkins of all sizes,.fabric, jewelry boxes, aprons and just about anything else that could be made out of textiles!
Siena is the city where the city is divided up into neighborhoods. Once a year, after training all year long each neighborhood competes against each other in horse races that circle around the city square. The views from the top of the Duomo is breathtaking and fun to wind up the towers to the spirals of this ancient city fortress. Great lunch on the square in one of the many cafes. This is chianti country so start the wine tasting here.
Near the Duomo, there is a wonderful little store that makes and sells ceramics. They are mostly tiles and shields of each of the 19 (I think) neighborhood’s “mascots” and symbols. I go J.L. several for this “kings and knights” bedroom theme. It is an amazing city and we could have spent a second day there easy!
These are the two drivers that we used.
24 hours, English speaking A great guy
The Hotel hooked us up with him.
Massimo took us to Siena and San Gimignano. He took us to the most beautiful places and was very charming.
Mundo Tours this was just a cab that picked us up from a restaurant.
Our driver was Marcello
They do local cab rides and will go out to the country
He took us on the most wonderful cab tour of Florence , he would stop and let us get out and walk around while he waited, he even took us to the Drug store (Pharmacy) and translated Joe’s aches and pains to the drugest and we got some of the most incredible remedies. (even a great stop smoking pill that did work…….until Joe took up smoking again!) We spent about 2 1/2 hours with him! He did not want to take any extra money so instead of the $8.00 cab fare we gave him about $75.00 and had to beg him to take it?!? Crazy!
I AM SURE IAM MISSING SOMETHING BUT THIS SHOULD BREAK YOUR BANK!
OK now for FOOD and WINE
Chianti is the most famous wine of the region and I don’t think that there is a bad bottle in the country so GOOO for it!
Trattoria Pandemonio casa brogi
Via del Leone,50/r
This restaurant was recommended to use by Joe Saurez, he is the owner of my handbag store in New York . He has been going to Italy (to buy bags) for the last 35 years. The owner is a crazy Italian women (her husband owns a leather factory). Excellent food and if you mention Joe’s name you might get more attention (maybe you don’t want that but???) Anyway, this will be an excellent meal and fab wine. You need to take a cab there, maybe walk back home.
It is right on the Arno and maybe 2-3 blocks west of the Ponte Vecchio. This is not the same “Harry’s Bar” that is in Venice , and famous for it’s Belini, but it is a true classic Italian restaurant with the ambience, service and of course the wonderful food and wine. I highly recommend it for lunch (we went about 2:30 and it was perfect!)
Via Del Moro
It is just off of the Piazza Goldoni
the area has a trillion cute little shops
Joe and I loved this place. We stayed at the Westin on the Arno and it is very close to the restaurant. The hotel sent us there and it was wonderful.
There is an outdoor area and it is good people watching. I think we ate there for dinner and I found a bill for 94,00 euros so it wasn’t all the expensive. For some reason I have the name “Fabrizio” written on the business card…not sure if that is the owner or what but try throwing that name out and see were it gets you?!?
My FAVORITE restaurant is the following:
Via Pian de Giullari,11r
This restaurant is soooooooooooooo romantic (and the waiters are very cute!). It is up on a hilltop on the south side of the city. We did not have anything that we didn’t devour. I also dragged a bottle of the most incredible olive oil home. You might even want to go there two different nites, as it is so good! You definatly need to take a cab “to and from” as it is not walkable (that I can remember). Very charming (Tuscanish) and an incredible view. Enjoy the food, and the wine is well……………..do I need to explain, the best???????????
DO NOT GO TO
Taverna Del Bronzino
Via Delle Ruote
We had this restaurant recommended by several people and we were very disappointed. Not good service not good food and very expensive$$$$. Plus you have to take a cab there and back…………no good.
Have the BEEEEEST time and enjoy every minute. I hope you fall in love with this beautiful country again,as I have.
THANK YOU KATHARINE AND MICHELLE FOR YOUR INPUT HERE AND TAKING US ALL ON A WONDERFUL DREAM LIKE TRIP!IT’s about time I GO BACK AND MAKE SOME NEW MEMORIES!I SPOKE WITH A PHYSIC THIS PAST WEEKEND WHO BELIEVES MY HEALTH IS A PRODUCT IN MY HOME LIKE SOAPS AND OR DETERGENTS.PERHAPS I NEED TO GO TO ITALY FOR A MONTH TO TEST THIS THEORY!I SHALL START PREPARING THE ITALIAN!!