Whether you’re a Florentine native or simply in town for the weekend, you’ll want to leave with an authentic souvenir of your time there. Thankfully, the city is home to many leather artisans and shops that can help you do just that. Here are some of our favorites.
One of the best ways to distinguish higher from lower quality leather is to smell it. If it smells like paint or some other industrial substance, it’s probably not the real thing. Some leather artisanal products also come with the label “simipelle” or “ecopelle,” which means that the item is made from animal hide that has been treated only with water and natural oils—no chemicals or dyes.
The Mercato Nuovo is one of the more popular places to buy leather, particularly in the outdoor section known as the Porcellino market (for the bronze pig whose nose was rubbed by superstitious travelers to ensure a return trip to Florence). But it’s tricky here, too: vendors really want to sell you stuff, and they might not always be forthright about their product.
Look for small, portable items—boxes, change purses, eyeglass cases, and albums, among other things—and don’t be afraid to shop around. There are some great small boutiques with top-quality bags and accessories, including Cuoieria Fiorentina (Via Panzani), Pratesi (Piazza del Pitti, 30) and BenHeart (Via Calzaiuoli 11/15/17/B), a newcomer that guarantees 100% Made in Italy quality. Another classic is Bemporad (Via Calzaiuoli 108), which dates back to 1885 and originally only carried menswear, but now offers clothing for all genders, particularly sleek leather jackets. florence leather bags