Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, has a long history of being a center for culture and craft. If there are any doubts, one just needs to look around at the impressive architecture and the abundance of art found in the city's museums, galleries, administrative buildings--and, really, just about anywhere. Less obvious, however, are the artisans whose studios and shops can sometimes get overlooked amidst the big designer stores or hidden behind humble storefronts.
The following list highlights my favorite artisanal shops in Florence, offering everything from leather sandals to shampoo, from silver to marbled paper. Part of being a responsible traveler is to make sure your converted dollars are being used to support the local economy, seeking out souvenirs made by artisans and historical purveyors of artisanal products rather than poor-quality trinkets imported from other countries. Go ahead and shop your heart out at any of these. Not only will you feel good for helping to sustain long-lived traditions, but you will be getting superior products made with skill and passion. Read More