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Shopping in Florence

Shopping in Florence is a delight. The city is famous for its high-quality leather products, wonderful goldsmiths, marbled paper and much more.

Key areas

The area around Santa Croce is home to the city's leather makers, while Oltrarno is cluttered with the workshops of local gold and silversmiths - although the Ponte Vecchio is home to the glitzier shops. Pick up avant garde jewellery at Angela Caputi, Via Santo Spirito 58r, or leather goods at MM, Via de'Ramaglianti 6r.

Designer boutiques cluster around the Via de' Tornabuoni and Via Calzaiuoli, where Versace, Ferragamo, Gucci, Max Mara and Prada all have stores. Fashion aficionados should also visit Via della Vigna Nuova where Dolce e Gabbana and venerable milliners Borsalino are located, and Piazza degli Strozzi for Louis Vuitton and Escada.

Handmade shoes are available at Francesco, Via Santo Spirito 62r, while Pineider, Piazza della Signoria 13r, is considered the most exclusive stationers in all Italy, having designed calling cards for Napoleon, Byron and Maria Callas.

Markets

Pick up designer copies, leather belts and bags in the open-air San Lorenzo Market, in Piazza San Lorenzo. Nearby stands the Mercato Centrale, a covered food market bursting with olives, hams, cheeses and fresh vegetables and a couple of restaurants on the first floor. The flea market at Largo Pietro Annigoni specialises in antiques and is open Monday to Saturday, and the last Sunday of the month.

Shopping centres

You can buy marked-down designer items at The Mall (8, V. Europa; www.themall.it) only half-an-hour's drive from central Florence, off the SS69.

Opening hours

As a general rule, shops open 0930-1300 and 1530-1930 or 2000, although larger department stores and supermarkets may stay open throughout the day. Clothes shops are often closed Monday mornings. There is limited Sunday opening.

Souvenirs

Leatherware, gold, shoes, fashion, food and wine are among the most popular souvenirs from Florence.

Tax information

Value-added tax (IVA) is 22% on clothing and luxury goods. Foreign tourists from non-EU countries can claim a tax refund, provided they spend at least €155 in the same shop on the same day.

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As the birthplace of the Renaissance period, opera and even gelato, Florence has enough cultural heritage to fill a whole lifetime.

Featured Hotels

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Hotel Lungarno

Hotel Lungarno has views to die for. Anywhere closer to the Ponte Vecchio and guests would be on top of it. The recently renovated 59 rooms and 14 suites of this lavish hotel have classic interiors with contemporary touches, and merge strong and serene colours. Little betters a glass of fizz on a private balcony here as the River Arno twinkles by.

Villa Cora

The home of Baron Oppenheim, this incredibly ornate villa has been the smartest address in town for 150 years. Now a luxury hotel, with the only open-air swimming pool in Florence to stay open all year round, guests can choose from rooms adorned with roses, antiques or a 1940s-themed suite.

Hotel Brunelleschi

Imaginatively reinvented from a Byzantine tower and a medieval church, this 4-star-hotel combines swish modernity in a romantic setting, right in the heart of Florence. Located just off Piazza Signoria, its architectural characteristics of exposed brickwork and wooden beams are retained throughout, giving a pleasing sense of history.

Palazzo Magnani Feroni

On another level of luxury, this fantastical palace harbours 12 theatrical suites on four floors, filled with antiques and lavish furnishings, mammoth mirrors and frescoed rooms. A stay is like being immersed in the world of Florentine royalty. The city views from the rooftop over are incredible. Look out for offers that make it affordable.

Ville Sull’Arno

On the banks of the river Arno, this spa hotel is the perfect retreat from the bustle of the city. Highly affordable for a 5-star, many of the large rooms here come with river views and each has elegant furnishings. It also has indoor and outdoor pools, a sauna and steam room as well as a top-notch restaurant serving Tuscan treats.

Gallery Hotel Art

This chic art hotel stands on a small square not far from the Ponte Vecchio and attracts a host of funky young designers and artists. Cool modern interiors are a world away from the medieval rat race outside. Communal spaces display rotating collections of contemporary art and the guest library contains over 400 books.