Florence’s history as the centre for arts and crafts in Italy has lasted throughout the centuries, and today, the city is still home to a wealth of places that will appeal to fashionistas. Laura Morelli, art historian and author of Made in Florence (2015), says: “One of the most wonderful things about Florence is that you can find a craftsperson to make just about anything your heart desires, from shoes and suits to stationery, books and furniture.” Here are the best places to visit for those into fashion and the arts.
Luxury stores in Florence
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Is it a store? Is it a gallery? Is it a restaurant? Gucci Garden is all three – and the boutique part stocks one-of-a-kind items, making a stop here necessary for any high-fashion fan. As well as new collections, Gucci Garden also showcases old advertising campaigns, artisans’ images and retro objects, and has a small cinema that screens fashion films. This eye-catching space is a fitting homage to the Florentine brand.
LUISAVIAROMA is a popular e-tailer, and its brick-and-mortar stores have Florentine roots (its first shop was founded in the city in the early 1930s). Located near the Duomo, the three-floor multi-brand store can’t be missed. The striking entrance and display windows change every season, capturing the attention of passers-by. Inside, you’ll find the best in luxury fashion, including Alexander McQueen, KENZO, Lanvin and Burberry. If you can’t find everything you need, head to its second store, LUISAVIAROMA Contemporary, on Via Silvio Pellico.
For great vintage shopping in Florence, Melrose is an excellent choice – it’s a treasure trove of denim, outerwear and shoes. The curated selection justifies the prices, which are set at a vintage, rather than thrift-store, level. It’s worth setting aside plenty of time to explore Melrose.
While trends come and go, boutiques that carefully curate their collections tend to stand the test of time. Boutique Nadine offers shoppers a selection of vintage clothes and other items, including old trunks, accessories and homeware. The store also carries non-vintage styles from upcoming designers.
The Sant’Ambrogio Market takes place every morning (except Sundays) from 7am to 2pm. You’ll find everything here, from farmers’ produce and food to household items, vintage goods and clothing. Arrive early to experience the hustle and bustle of a market outside of the main tourist areas, and maybe even snag yourself a bargain.
One part gourmet restaurant, one part café, one part florist’s and one part jazz club – La Ménagère has it all. The staff are used to speaking English as many expats and international students visit here regularly. Its central location in the San Lorenzo neighbourhood is easily reachable but placed enough off the main streets to make La Ménagère feel authentic and relaxed. The food portions are on the smaller side, but the restaurant doesn’t skimp on the atmosphere.
The philosophy behind IO Osteria Personale is owner Matteo Fantini’s desire to break down stereotypes about Italian cuisine. His restaurant, located in an old butcher’s shop, invites you to forget everything you thought you knew about Tuscan staples, pasta or seafood, and instead experience creative combinations such as steak tartare with amaranth popcorn and gorgonzola ravioli with peanuts, tamarind and cumin.
Only open from May to September, this trendy outdoor lounge-club is the go-to spot for those looking to be seen and have a great time. Upscale with a relaxed atmosphere, Flò is great for a night out in Florence. Come dressed to impress, as is the Italian way, and enjoy the marvellous panoramic night views of the city with a cocktail in hand. If you really want to party in style, reserve a table before they’re all booked, and make it a night to remember.
Just behind the Cinema Odeon Firenze, you’ll find the stylish Odeon Bistrò. It offers an impressive food menu, but it’s just as good for an aperitivo. Since it’s open until 3am, you may as well try a cocktail, too. Odeon Bistrò is a favourite among the fashion crowd and sometimes hosts parties during fashion week.
Sometimes called the Harrods of Florence, Rinacente is a large department store. Don’t miss its rooftop, which has a lovely bar where you can take in the Duomo while enjoying a glass of prosecco and some food. This bar is an excellent place to relax, whether after shopping or before going out.
Le Murate started life as a convent before being turned into a prison. Today, it’s a lively entertainment hub with a bar, restaurant, café and bookshop. Piazza delle Murate is the heart of the complex and the perfect place to enjoy a drink, socialise and spend some quality time in the sunshine.