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Tuscany's Top 40: The Ultimate Shoppers' Guide


Though it is owned by the Pucci family, the silk fabrics at Antico Setificio Fiorentino (4 Via Bartolini, Florence; 39-055/213-861; www.anticosetificiofiorentino.it; appointment preferred) couldn't be further from the wild, head-spinning patterns usually associated with the Florentine fashion dynasty. That's why European royals have been coming to the setificio (silk weavers) since 1786 to buy handwoven damasks and brocades for their drawing room curtains and antique chairs. The spice-and-beeswax-scented showroom is stacked with colorful bolts of fabric. Don't miss the Ermisino silk, in shimmering, shot colors like antique rose and gold—it scrunches into stiff peaks resembling whipped cream.

• As you wind through wooded hills to the ancient, walled town of Anghiari, it seems that nothing has changed there for hundreds of years. And the illusion persists in the vaulted 16th-century showrooms of Busatti (14 Via Mazzini, Anghiari; 39-0575/788-013; www.busatti.com), where linens are woven on 19th- and early-20th-century looms. Clients include Miuccia Prada and Valentino, who order made-to-measure table sets in linen and cotton. Among the most popular designs: fresh stripes or checks in pink, yellow, or azure on white.


Anyone ordering a bespoke men's or women's shirt from young shirtmaker Leonardo Bugelli (21R Via Frà Bartolomeo, Florence; 39-055/577-600) will have to be patient. Bugelli won't design a shirt without several fittings, and may take six months to deliver the garment. Clients agree that it's worth the wait: the shirts are made from the finest Italian cottons, linens, and silks, woven on antique looms; buttons are in Australian mother-of-pearl; buttonholes are hand-stitched.

• Though the shop just opened in May, Florentine fashion students are lining up for offbeat, made-to-measure clothing from Golubcik (27R Via de' Coverelli, Florence; 39-335/686-1494 or 39-339/825-8919), by young bespoke duo Federica Leonardi and Emiliano Gori. Among the hottest looks: raw linen jackets in grassy green or sunny yellow; dresses woven from crisscrossed fabric strips; pleated denim pants. The Mondrian-like interior is a happy accident: the store once belonged to a stucco decorator who painted patchwork rectangles on the walls to test the colors of his paints.


When the men and women of Tuscany's cocktail party crowd need the perfect ensemble, they go to Sugar (21/23 and 43/45 Corso Italia, Arezzo; 39-0575/354-631). Beppe Angiolini's fashion fiefdom extends across three modernized palazzi, where the latest looks from Gucci, Prada, and Marni sit side by side with niche labels such as Dosa and Haute by Vincenzo De Cotiis. Past clients include Sting and Trudie Styler. A Sugar "lifestyle" store incorporating housewares and furnishings is in the works for 2004.

• For clothes by emerging Italian designers, try Dolci Trame (4 Via del Moro, Siena; 39-0577/46168), a boutique piled high with hats, bags, scarves, and racks of apparel, overlooking the cloisters of the San Cristoforo church. Owners Elisabetta Teri and Federica Orazi mix international names (Martin Margiela, Anna Sui) with the work of local designers. Among the most coveted items are colorful silk and cashmere scarves by Tuscan Faliero Sarti and stilettos and slingbacks by Roman shoemaker Joseph De Bac.


When Catherine de' Medici married the future king Henri II of France in 1533, she introduced Florence's incomparable perfumes to the beau monde. Today, some of the world's best artisanal herbalists and perfumers are still headquartered in her home city.

• If there were a prize for Italy's most beautiful store, the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella (16 Via della Scala, Florence; 39-055/216-276; www.smnovella.com) would be a front-runner. Housed in the frescoed, 14th-century former chapel facing the cloisters of the Santa Maria Novella church, this herbalist and pharmacy has been producing pomades, tinctures, teas, infusions, and honeys since 1612. The wooden cupboards contain skin-whitening powders, Virgin's Milk skin cream, and even Seven Thieves Vinegar (for fainting fits). Forget the mile-long line at the Uffizi and book a tour of the pharmacy instead.

• On the days that the Santa Maria Novella is overflowing with tourists, Florence's cognoscenti buy remedies and gifts from Antico Officina del Farmacista Dr. Vranjes (44R Via Borgo La Croce; 39-055/241-748), whose new sage-green and white store in the up-and-coming Borgo La Croce district is filled with cork-stoppered bottles of herbal cosmetics, perfumes, and creams, all featuring handwritten labels. The rose-and-myrtle berry perfume is a favorite.

• Cherie Blair looked to perfumer Lorenzo Villoresi (14 Via de' Bardi, Florence; 39-055/234-1187; www.lorenzovilloresi.it; by appointment) for the perfect gift for Queen Elizabeth II: a red travertine marble dish of his spicy potpourri. But Villoresi is best known for his unique scents, individually blended in his antiques-filled apartment from more than a thousand essences—from honeysuckle to horse. Perfumes start at $695 for the first bottle; other (less-costly) options include classic fragrances (try the springy Yerbamate) or the 100-odd scents for the home. Among the most evocative: Trade Winds, Sweet Peas, and Tomato Leaves.


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