One of my favorite places I’ve shopped is the San Lorenzo Market in Florence, Italy. Don’t get me wrong- I like to travel so I can soak in the culture, but here are my top three things to do while traveling 1. Outdoor adventure 2. Shop 3. Take photos of little kids (in a non-creepy way). Before I go anywhere I like to know what I can BUY there. I pack less so I can shop more.
When I look back at all the places I have been shopping, the markets of Florence still call me back. My biggest travel regret from my first trip was not buying a leather jacket that I bargained down to 100 euro. Its magnificence haunts my dreams. Here are my tips and guide maneuvering the San Lorenzo market of Florence.
San Lorenzo Market Florence
The main market, Mercado di San Lorenzo, is the trap that got me. A friend that lived in Florence gave me a talking-to about the rip-offs. Many of the items here are straight from factories in Asia, and although still real leather, they aren’t the always GOOD leather Italy is known for. You’re hoping to pay 50-80 Euro for a nice bag that maybe cost them 20 Euro. Though, her and I both did get amazing deals here. I have a grey handbag and purple leather wallet that have lasted 4 years without signs of breakdown. I bought leather driving gloves (that I’ve obviously never worn because I’m not a car-racing, scotch-drinking, gentlemen.) I bought scarves for presents back home that were supposedly pashmina/silk. Scarves are one of the hardest things to shop for because the many materials vary in extremes of price and it’s difficult to notice the differences. After being around so much cashmere in India, now I can tell if the scarf is really cashmere.
If you want quality, luxury leather I suggest you do research for acclaimed shops in Florence. I don’t have advice on this because I am just fine with mediocre Italian leather from San Lorenzo Market. An equivalent to the bag I got in Florence would have cost me over 300 in the U.S. guaranteed. I adore Fossil bags because of the soft leather, and that’s how so many of the bags in Florence were. No matter where I see leather bags, I picture the market in Florence and regret not buying more colors or at least a cross-body!
I like to shop in the evening, near closing time. This is because I get two things at once- a sunset and a good deal. Closing time means the vendor is getting his last deals of the day and may lower prices for that extra bit of cash. In the morning this never happens because they have the whole day ahead of them. For a sunset that will sear into your brain, look for views from Ponte Santa Trinita (Holy Trinity Bridge).
As always, negotiate the cost. I got quite a large handbag made of extraordinary leather for 55 Euro that started out at 110 Euro. If buying more than one item, you should make sure to get a deal for quantity. Negotiate the lowest price for each individual item you want to buy, and then add those prices together. Say, you want 3 things each offered to you at 40 euro, then discounted to 20, tell the vendor you’ll take all three for 50.
Remember, if the vendor is mean to you, there are going to be more of the same product just another stall down. Don’t be afraid to walk away, many times they will call after you and agree to your price.
Lastly, make sure you’re happy when you’re shopping. Sad people don’t like anything and you’ll find yourself out of Florence, cheered up, regretting not buying all the beautiful jewelry, bags, and scarves. Best way to cheer up from homesickness or lovesickness in Italy: Gelato!! Gelato and Pizza. Head to Piazzale Della Michelangelo for great views from atop the hill and some delicious gelato, then do your shopping. By the time you’re done shopping, all you will want to do is sleep!
Other things to do in Florence:
Practice your photography skills in the alleys of this renaissance town
Check out beautiful marble of the Duomo, named the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Enjoy the copy of Michaelangelo’s David in the main square, Piazza della Signoria. To see the real thing, head to the Galleria dell’ Acedemia. There are plenty of other statues to admire as well.
Do some jewelry shopping along Ponte Vecchio, another great place to watch the cotton candy sunset. There is nothing better than an Italian cotton candy sunset! Stroll along the bridge for street performers, shopping, and great views.
Pin this little guide to the San Lorenzo Market in Florence for later and check out this other blog post for Florence
- 10 Best Kept Secrets in Florence You Don’t Want to Miss
- Also, read up on how to fly all around Europe to 9 cities in 7 countries for just $355 using my tricks!
- Love to shop when you travel? I have guides for India, Morocco, and Singapore.