Best Shopping in Tuscany
Credit: Alamy

So you’ve scoured Florence, Pisa, Siena, and beyond the hills of Tuscany for the best leather products, bargains, gifts, and mementos. Now you’re looking for the cure to your fashion and style needs. Renowned brands (like Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo) began in Florence and the city’s history with haute couture runs deep. And Tuscany isn’t simply known for designer shops. It is the region for all things handmade and artisanal: silk clothing, custom-made (also known as bespoke) shoes, and colorful scarves. If you fancy the latest fashions, you would be hard-pressed not to find them in Tuscany.

Quality craftsmanship in Tuscany is not a marketing or sales tool, it is a fact of life, which seems to me as genetic as environment. Whether it’s a roof of clay tiles that last a thousand years or a handmade pair of shoes that last a hundred, the idea simply seems to be “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well or not at all”. I bring this up because to search for real “Made in Italy” items is essential. Try to shop in a well-established store and do not be shy to ask if the item is all made in Italy; any Tuscan salesperson will take that not as an insult, but a compliment to the whole country. So buy something made with care in Tuscany; you’ll cherish it for years to come.

Flo Concept Store

This store is a unique take on fashion: a combination of quality, elegance, and ethics. They feature rising designers, and dedicated craftsmen of small enterprises who use first-class materials. Flo is a socially-responsible cooperative boutique (they try to support individuals from underprivileged backgrounds) that unites the Florentine consciousness of flair of the new with a timelessness of beauty. Contemporary design for women and children. Items range from clothing and hats, to purses, and accessories handcrafted by new artisans.

La Rinascente

An Italian department store (with roots in Milan and an outpost in Florence), La Rinascente is Florence’s answer to Macy’s, where you can find everything from men’s and women’s fashion, to accessories and beauty supplies, to home goods. The store in Florence also features a rooftop terrace with impeccable views of the city and its famous sights.

Antiche Tessiture Lucchesi (Lucca)

Silk items may not be the most well-known Tuscan product, but Lucca’s and Florence’s wealth (which enabled the artistic explosion of the Renaissance) was in a good part based on their magnificent silks and brocades of the thirteenth century onward. Antiche Tessiture Lucchesi weaves some of the region’s quality silk and linen products. Items are for men, women, children and the home. From dresses, wraps, scarves, to lampshades, their collection is created in true Luccan tradition—on hand looms. Their materials for dresses are a wonder, embracing and glorifying the female form. They do made-to-order. The quality is such you’ll treasure it for life.

Dolci Trame (Siena)

Sienese fashion tends to be less flamboyant than that of Florence, leaning toward a timeless elegance. So the owners of Dolci Trame, Elisabetta Terli and Federica Orazi, are always on the lookout for rising designers who are neither too haute couture or too artsy-crafty. Theirs is a high-end women’s boutique with unique designers and modern fashion. Since 1988, this shop has been providing chic, quality clothing for Siena’s women. Discover your next fashion must-have (be it a dress, shoes, a jacket, or a blouse) during your next trip to this unparalleled walled city.

Stefano Bemer (Florence)

Stefano Bemer, who died in 2012, had a simple philosophy: A shoe is an object which, if of excellent quality, helps us walk and live more comfortably. Bemer was the essential Florentine artisan creating superb and justifiably world-famous shoes—his clients include Andy Garcia, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Julio Iglesias. His tradition was passed onto the craftsmen in his shop. Renowned for the use of high-quality leather, custom design, and impeccable workmanship, the choice is either ready-to-wear or bespoke in about forty basic styles with three or four variations each. Be warned, bespoke takes about 4 weeks.