Visiting any part of Italy means travelling back home with a suitcase full of pasta, cheese, traditional liqueurs, wine and olive oil.
The tourist’s traditional favourite is pasta, which you can either buy in any supermarket, gourmet shop or market. The most unusual varieties will normally cost between € 3 (US$ 3.50) and € 4 (US$ 4.60) for a 500-gram pack.
Northern Italy's most famous cheese is Parmesan, great for making risottos and Pecorino Romano, a hard and salty cheese perfect for grating. You will see that it's extremely cheap compared to the U.K. or the U.S.
Although it's not Milan, Florence is also very well-known for its fashion boutiques and high-end stores. In fact, the North of Italy, in general, is known for its love of fashion.
The most exclusive shopping streets are located near the Ponte Vecchio: Via Por Santa Maria, Via Calimala and its perpendicular and parallel streets.
In the city centre, tourists will find plenty of street stands selling counterfeit products like bags, shoes, among many other products. Even though there are very good bargains, we recommend thinking twice before purchasing counterfeit products, as the Italian authorities are threatening to punish buyers with fines between 500 and € 1 (US$ 1.20).
Souvenirs and presents
The streets of Florence house numerous shops and street stands where visitors will be able to buy miniatures, t-shirts, puppets and even and even Venetian masks.
Marketplaces and street markets
There are three markets and flea markets in Florence that are a must. All three are located in the city centre:
- Mercato Centrale: The Mercato Centrale (Central Market) was built in 1784. It houses great food stands, where visitors will find the best Italian delicacies.
- Mercato San Lorenzo: This market is part of the Mercato Centrale and spreads through the streets until it gets to the San Lorenzo Church. Here, tourists can purchase various types of souvenirs and presents, like t-shirts, bags and other products.
- Mercato del Porcellino: This market is also called Mercato Nuovo and is very similar to the San Lorenzo Market. The Mercato del Porcellino gets its name from the statue of the wild boar on the southern side of the market. According to a popular legend, if you touch the boar’s nose you will return to Florence (it happened to us!).