Urban Adventures. Quite simply, the Best. Day. Ever.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Italy over the Christmas holidays, then you should share some of that luck by bringing back epic Christmas gifts that you can only find in the land of great fashion, great food, and great, well, everything. We asked our local guide Linda in Florence to share her best picks for artisanal, made-in-Florence gift options for putting under your Christmas tree this year.
Via della Spada 9r, 50123 Firenze. Borgo La Croce 44r, 50121 Firenze. There are various Dr. Vranges store locations around the city, so if you miss one, you might still find another! Dr Vranges is an artisanal perfume created and developed in Florence, and the perfumes, room diffusers, and candles are all inspired by the city itself as well as by the beautiful landscapes of Tuscany.
Via S.Margherita 11/r, 50122 Firenze. Simone Taddei is the last local artisan specialising in the fine art of handmade leather boxes. His shop is in front of the classic Santa Margherita dei Cerchi church (where Dante Alighieri met his muse Beatrice and fell in love with her).
Simone’s handmade boxes take about three weeks to produce, and are available in a variety of sizes, colours, and styles, all made with authentic Florentine leather. He begins by piecing the leather around a wooden form, and then works the hard leather with his hands and water to mold it perfectly. Besides boxes, he also creates business card holders, pen boxes, and coin purses.
Mario Luca Giusti
Via della Vigna Nuova 88, 50123 Firenze. Mario Luca Giusti is an innovative Florentine designer specialising in outdoor tableware made with synthetic crystal. He describes his style as pop fusion, and you’ll often see his products on mega yachts and the poolsides of the rich and famous.
Choose from gorgeous ice boxes, to cups and platters, to napkin holders. No matter what souvenir you’re in the mood for, you’ll find plenty of fun objects that are functional, beautiful, and very colourful.
Wood & Cut
Via L.Bartolini 1-3r, 50124 Firenze. Jane is a restorer of wooden furniture and objects, and you can see her in her studio working away on various projects. She has her own label called ‘Jane H’ under which she makes a number of objects from reclaimed wood (psst, they make the perfect gift!) Objects include various facades of Churches around Florence, including the Church of Santo Spirito, Santa Croce, the facade of Palazzo Vecchio, the Brunelleschi’s cupola, and more.
Jane’s latest project Wood & Cut. Together with visual designer Giuditta, they have created a collection of jewellery and other objects out of wood. As they explain it, each item is like a unique piece of sculpture to wear or to enjoy in your home.
Via D’Arglione 22, 50124 Firenze. Skip the high-end designer names! If you want a true made-in-Italy bag you have arrived at the right place at Dimitri Villoresi.
Born in the district of San Niccolo, Dimitri learned his craft in the district of San Frediano, where he now has his studio amongst other Florentine craftsmen. Each of his pieces is made with extreme care and dedication, as every stage is carried out entirely by hand. No sewing machines here, only hand-stitching with a needle and thread. You can choose from the bags on display or have your own bag made and personalised just for you.
Borgo degli Albini 32r, 50122 Florence. Years ago on Via Matteo Palmieri, Federico’s mother ran a beautiful costume jewellery shop called Moltissimo. Her ecclectic handmade designs were fun and stylish. She was a collector of handmade beads from Italian cities such as Murano, and she even worked for jeweller Angela Caputti. Inspired by his mother, Federico Guerrini has continued the family tradition and now makes his own costume jewellery for sale. Be warned, the selection is so fantastic you could easily want to buy every piece!
His tiny store is located between the Lions Pub and the Pizzicheria in Piazza San pier Maggiore, and it’s very easy to miss, so keep your eyes open. Federico also keeps odd opening hours for the shop, but if you visit between 5pm and 7pm you should find him!
Via Toscanella 9r, 50125 Firenze. The mother and daughter duo who run this place were raised in Argentina to Italian parents, and the family has a background in leather-making. Alicia, the owner, is the second generation to continue the art of working with leather, while her daughter, Ivana, has a passion for jewellery-making as well as leather art.
This duo have a gorgeous store and studio on Via Toscanella where you can visit them and see how they make their beautiful designs.
Via Ferdinando Zannetti 14/r, 50123 Firenze. Paolo Penko is one of the most charming artisans I have ever met. He and his family will welcome you into their workshop and showroom, located in the district of San Lorenzo. Paolo speaks about his art as a goldsmith with such passion and love that you just know whatever you buy is going to be something special.
Paolo is one of Florence’s most important goldsmiths. His designs are influenced by the the city and reflect Florence’s palaces, frescoes by Botticelli, stained glass circular motifs from the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, and facades of Nobile Palace. You’ll also see symbols of the Medici, who ruled the city for over 350 years. He is also one of the few goldsmiths to still produce the original currency of Florence, the florin! Visit his workshop to see the master at work, along with his sons and wife, who specialises in precious gems.
Via del Corso 59/r, 50123 Firenze. Fabriano is one of the oldest paper-makers in the world — they’ve been making paper since the 13th century! Famous Florentine artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Botticelli used Fabriano paper, but today you can also find find leather products and even jewellery made from Fabriano paper, as well as traditional paper in the gorgeous store.
Via della Spada 23, 50123 Firenze. The perfect gift for the season is, of course, the traditional Christmas cake, panettone — and local baker Maurizio Tofanari bakes one of the best in town. You can order any size and they are made fresh daily, using top Italian products. Plus, they taste absolutely delicious!
From tasting the distinctive flavours of Tuscany on a wine adventure, to discovering the local secrets behind the city’s cuisine on a Florence food tour, these Florence tours get you in touch with this mesmerising Italian city in the best way possible – with a local. Get ready to loosen those belt loops…