Updated: Apr 12
My sister recently came to visit me, and was in search of a one-of-a-kind gift to bring back home. The last thing she wanted was a cheesy gift with the word "Florence" tacked on to a plastic David statue. This conversation inspired me to write this blog, so everyone can bring back the best of Florence craftsmanship back home to their loved ones. Florence has a fantastic shopping scene, no matter what your price point is. From buttery leather jackets to a beautiful gold bracelet, this is the ultimate guide to buying quality gifts in Florence.
Jewelry from Ricchi's
My favorite place to buy jewelry is one of the best kept secrets in Florence. Giuliano Ricchi started making jewelry during his apprenticeship in 1962 at the age of fifteen, and is now considered a national treasure. Not only does Giuliano design all of his own jewelry, but he manufactures the jewelry from start to finish. Giuliano has designed pieces for some of the biggest names: Christian Dior, Gucci, and even Bill Clinton. Although he is incredibly sought out after by huge brands, Giuliano is humble and offers affordable prices for his treasures. He does not have a big flashy store, in fact, he hardly even has a storefront. Giuliano has a tiny workshop, and if you do not know where to find the store you will definitely miss it. I was lucky enough to receive a tour of his workshop and make my own gold bracelet.
Ricchi's - Piazza Santo Spirito, 12
Silver from Brandimarte
During a class visit, a woman named Bianca came in to our class and introduced us to her family owned silver brand, Brandimarte. Since 1955, the brand has been making unique creations out of pure silver, and I remember being blown away by the beauty of their handcrafted silver wine glass. Bianca explained to us the importance of authenticity, and how each of her items are handmade by Italian craftsmen to give each customer a personalized item. Their family brand almost went out of business during the pandemic, however, Bianca insisted on keeping the brand alive, even against her father's wishes. Bianca was kind enough to bring our class tiny, silver mice and told us that although they look similar, each one is slightly different from the other. This gift will forever hold a place in my heart.
Brandimarte - Via del Moro 92R or www.brandimarte.com
Stationary from Alberto Cozzi
As a lover of reading and writing, my personal favorite artisanship in Florence surrounds paper gifts. Alberto Cozzi's store opened in 1908 and has been a family business for generations. Their products are sought out all over the world and the company's bound books are used by legal firms, libraries, and notaries. They will print your name or initials in gold leaf on one of their leather bound books, which makes a perfect souvenir. The books are gorgeously bound with leather, handmade marbled paper, and canvas. You can purchase journals, photo albums, and intricately painted cards as well. I purchased a beautifully bound journal with a marbled cover, and I write in this journal almost everyday. It is the perfect keepsake to remember my time here in Florence.
Alberto Cozzi - Via del Parione, 35
Perfume from Santa Maria Novella
Florence is the perfect city for perfume lovers. It seems that every street in the city has at least one perfumery, if not more. A particularly famous perfumery in Florence is Santa Maria Novella. It is said to be the oldest pharmacy in the world, and is still in operation as it makes dozens of gorgeous perfumes, body products, and toners. It was founded by Dominican Friars after their arrival in 1221. The monks made medications, salves, and balms from herbs they grew to heal the sick and dying in the church infirmary. During the Black Plague, the monks made a rosewater antiseptic to disinfect homes and this exact scent is still for sale (Aqua di Rose).
Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella - Via della Scala, 16
Shoes from Mannina
The Mannina workshop is a historical and renowned shoe store in Florence, with the same traditions being used since 1953. The founder, Calogero Mannina, has passed down his shoemaking techniques to maintain his craftsmanship, despite the passing years. The shoe store has managed to keep up with the latest fashion trends while still maintaining exceptional quality. While I was in the store, the shoemaker was making a pair of shoes for one of their loyal clientele, all the way in New York City. One pair of shoes takes approximately eighty hours to make, and is said to last for twenty years. Although on the more expensive side, a pair of shoes from Mannina would be a gift from Florence that will be enjoyed for decades.
Mannina - Via de' Guicciardini, 16/R
Leather from Jimmy's
Florentine leather is known worldwide for its craftsmanship and tradition that dates back to the thirteenth century, when tanneries lined the Arno River. Florentine leather is recognized internationally for the quality and beauty of their products. A staple leather piece is one of the best gifts you can bring back home to your loved ones, especially if it is coming from Florence. Jimmy's has beautiful leather jackets. He designs the jackets himself, and there is something for every body type. The lining, stitching, and craftsmanship is nothing short of amazing. Leather is the perfect choice for anyone who loves giving practical and useful gifts. Be aware, however, because some vendors sell fake leather pieces to unknowing tourists.
Jimmy’s Leather Collection - Piazza di San Lorenzo, 2r, 50123
Although I have not found my favorite street artist yet, the city is known for its art, which takes many forms. There is no shortage of young and upcoming artists creating one of a kind art pieces and selling them on the street. Although they may seem like tourist traps, lots of street art stands sell unique artwork that will make the perfect gift for anyone back home, especially for art lovers. The best part of street art is you can meet the artist who personally created your piece of art to take back home, and they are very customizable. Street artists are all over the city, and can be found during a stroll through Florence.