In Italian, the idea of making a good impression is expressed as ‘fare una bella figura’ – that is, to make a beautiful figure of your self. In the land of great art and artists, some of the world’s best artisan craftsmen, and the top fashion brands, it is no wonder that beauty in Italy is so important.
(The only exception is when you are talking about food. If something is delicious, you say it is ‘delizioso’ o ‘molto buono’ – very good – but only if it is actually beautiful to look at would you describe food asbeing beautiful!)
Just like the Italian architecture that manages to be beautiful and impressive without being ostentatious, the Italians really are experts in beauty when it comes to fashion too.
So how do Italians living on modest incomes always manage to look so stunning and be at the height of fashion at all times?
The secret is the nack of blending high-end Italian fashion brand classics with up-to-the-minute fashion buys obtained from no-name suppliers at the local markets.
Each town and village in Italy has a local market usually around once per week. A street or piazza is blocked off to be filled with an array of market stalls selling everything from the latest fashion (and sometimes even last season’s latest fashions at super bargain prices!), household goods, handbags, gift ideas, garden items, ceramics, cosmetics – everything!
The locals stroll through, wandering from stand to stand, idling through the crowds, stopping frequently to enthusiastically greet a neighbour, family member or friend in such an enthusiastic way that you’d think it had been years and not just a day or so since they last met. Cheek kisses and heartfelt ‘come stai?’ (how are you?) and a touch of gossip ensue, before an exchange of information on where to buy the lastest and greatest at the market.
These items are then perfectly matched with a few key items from the the big Italian fashion houses such as Ferragamo, Gucci, Prada, Valentino, Armani, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana to name but a few of the whose-who in fashion not only in Italy, but in the world of fashion!
Amazing shoes, a stunning handbag and a great hair-do and you’re set!
For the best markets in Florence’s historical city centre, there is the great San Lorenzo Market that seeps out from around the San Lorenzo Basilica, covering a good half-day’s worth of shopping for everything from bags, jackets, clothing and accessories, shoes, ceramics and great gift ideas from Florence. It’s open every day. The Porcellino Market (also known as the Mercato Nuovo – it’s only several centuries old after all!) is located under the Logge del Porcellino. It’s a little more enclosed, but you can always guarantee to find some great gifts, a stunning Florence leather handbag and many other treasures. At the Sant’Ambrogio Market in Piazza Ghiberti (just a short walk from Piazza Santa Croce), you can mix with many a local out to do buy fresh produce at the market, as well as more household items and a splash of fashion items too. There are also often markets that spring up around Florence’s city centre for Christmas, and other special occasions too.
You can get to the Florence fashion outlets from the SITA Bus Deposit just by the central Florence train station (Firenze Santa Maria Novella).
Contact us if you would like a private shopping guide to guide you to the best secret fashion locations in Florence!
To explore Florence’s beautiful architecture instead, we have the Original Florence Walk, a great guided tour of Florence with an expert tour guide, including visits to two of Florence’s oldest buildings, and tells fascinating stories about their amazing history. Many other must-see sights in Florence are also covered in this guided city walk tour.
In the Uffizi Gallery, you can see the fashions from ages past as painted by some of the greatest artists in history. The Uffizi Gallery houses what is arguably one of the finest collections of Renaissance art. Michelangelo’s David rather is unclad but definitely beautiful and well-worth visiting!
Siena is a great place to shop in Tuscany too. Visit charming hilltop towns of Siena, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni on our Best of Tuscany small-group tour. See the highlights of Tuscany in one spectacular day tour from Florence, immerse yourself in the Tuscan wine-producing countryside, enjoy a wine tasting and cellar visit, and be part of the scenery that has inspired so many great artists.
For a guided tour of Rome’s historical city centre packed with great historical must-see sites such as The Coliseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Vatican and much more, we have small-group Rome guided tours with a great tour guide, and guided small-group, skip-the-line tour of the Vatican where you can see more classic artworks in the Vatican Museum with a great tour guide.
If you would like to have a private guide accompanying you, we have private tours that cater to your every desire. From Florence (and Tuscany) to Rome, Venice to the Cinque Terre and beyond, we are at your beck and call.
To explore other areas of Italy, can check out our Artviva Walking Tours website to read more about the tours we have to offer in Florence, Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.