Who doesn’t love a good bargain? Certainly not the Italians, for whom shopping is something of an art form. Happily, Tuscany abounds with opportunities for visitors to partake, and score some great deals, too.
Some of the best places to find special local goods at great prices are the outdoor markets that are held around the region—daily in Florence and weekly in most the larger villages. Among the finds here are olive-wood cutting boards and salt and pepper shakers (which become jewels when polished by daily use); homemade fruit preserves, soaps, and bath products; and locally harvested spices and oils.
On the other end of the shopping spectrum are the area’s two large outlet malls, which offer everything from discounted Italian fashion labels to exquisite porcelain. The one nearest Florence can be a bit hectic (the other, further south, is a little less so), but you’ll find good-quality merchandise here that would be hard to find at home.
For the best choice in Italian goods—both high-fashion and handmade—plan to visit both sorts of shopping outlets in Tuscany.
San Lorenzo Market
This popular Florentine market boasts an indoor and outdoor section—inside, a food hall with Tuscan snacks and eats; outside, a street market with leather handbags, accessories, and more. Be prepared for crowds, who throng the excellent leather-goods and food vendor stalls.
Fiera Antiquaria Di Arezzo
The ancient Etruscan city of Arezzo is home to fabulous monuments and art museums; it’s also where this astounding flea market is held on the first Sunday of each month. The market stalls fill the Piazza Grande and spread into the adjoining streets. You can happily spend hours here browsing among antique paintings, furniture, books, jewelry, and more.
Siena’s large outdoor market runs every Wednesday outside the city’s massive fortress, Fortezza Medicea. You can find well-priced designer clothes here, as well as excellent food vendors—and all manner of colorful people watching. Bring your camera; some of the most beautiful views of the city can be enjoyed from this vantage point.
Piazza Santo Spirito
For a quieter outdoor shopping experience in Florence, pop over to the Piazza Santo Spirito, where vendors set up shop each morning to sell local produce and clothing. On the second Sunday of the month (aside from August), the Piazza transforms into an energetic antiques and crafts market.
The Mall – Outlet (Leccio)
OK here it is. Just outside of Florence, in Leccio, is the fabled Mall: luxury outlets for those who like to show labels in public. Prices are not necessarily cheap but fall under the almost-affordable-luxury category. Fashion’s biggest names have outposts here: Prada, Gucci, Fendi, Burberry, Dior, and Alexander McQueen. Stuff to die for at 50% off.