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Florence is one of the leading cities in Italy for fashion. The first ever fashion parade in history took place in the Sala Bianca of the Pitti Palace, in 1951. Many great Italian designers founded their company in Florence, and most of them still have their headquarters in Renaissance City: Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Prada, Emilio Pucci, Roberto Cavalli. That’s why many travellers are interested in Florence shopping tours and, as always, many of them feel disappointed after experiencing such tours, because they don’t know what they are booking. In part, it’s their fault: they don’t read the tour specifics very well, and then leave a bad review because they “didn’t know the tour was in the afternoon before paying”… you didn’t know because you didn’t read! In part, by the way, it’s because the tour descriptions make promises that cannot be fulfilled. There are two different ways to go for shopping in Florence: one involves moving to fashion outlets outside the city, the other one is shopping in the city center: each way has advantages and disadvantages. In this article, I will try to explain how Florence shopping tours work, to help you with your choice.
Shopping at the fashion outlets
In recent years, large fashion outlets were built in low-cost areas, where the main fashion brands can rent a large space for a price which is much lower than in the city center main streets. What is sold here? Well, certainly not the most recent collections: depending on the brands, you can find the collections of the past year or clothes with some minor issue, but for the most part: they have a separate production made for fashion outlets. That’s because fashion outlets, where prices are lower, have become very popular. For many brands, sales in these outlets are way more than in traditional shops. The standard discount you will find at a fashion outlet is 30%, but in sales periods (July. August, January, February), a further 30% discount is generally applied. In some cases, it can get as high as 80%.
Florence shopping tour to Prada and The Mall fashion outlets
Prada outlet is in the Valdarno area, about 40 km south of Florence. It is stored into an industrial facility and offers a very large shop, a cafeteria and restaurant. About 20 Km north, on the way back to Florence, is The Mall, one of the largest luxury fashion outlets in Tuscany, with about 40 brands and many shops. Again, don’t expect any particular “atmosphere”, it’s more like an industrial area. Don’t expect to shop with few euros either: if a cloth has a price of € 1,000, it will be expensive even for 30% less. I go shopping in these places, and sometimes I come back without buying anything, other times I find bargains: it’s a matter of luck. This is not a guided tour, you’re going to shop on your own. The tour starts at 2 pm in central Florence. You will hop on the coach and be driven to Prada outlet, where you will have time to shop; after hopping on the bus again, you will reach The Mall and will have more time to shop. Finally, you’ll be back in Florence around 8 pm.
Florence shopping tour to Barberino Designer outlet
The Barberino Designer Outlet, compared to the two outlets of the previous tour, is definitely more affordable. At the same time, there will be less luxury fashion shops (but some are there) and more popular chains. The outlet has been built like a Renaissance village and the atmosphere is very nice. It also has all the services you might want, like restaurants, cafes, atm and so on. This tour is a round trip transfer service from Florence train station to the Barberino outlet desk (about 45 minutes drive) with an air conditioned coach. You can choose to leave Florence at 9:30 am, 11:30 am, 2 pm or 4 pm, while the trip back to Florence is scheduled at 1 pm, 3 pm, 6 pm and 8 pm. The good thing is you can decide how long to stay at the outlet: from the full-day immersion to just an hour or two.
Florence shopping tours in the city center
I don’t think you need a guided tour to shop for top luxury fashion in the city center; what you need for sure is a large budget. Then, just go to via Tornabuoni (our Rodeo Drive, or 5th Avenue if you prefer) and you will find plenty of beautiful things to buy. What is much more interesting to do, in my opinion, is to see something you can find only in Florence, and for this you need a tour guide. Below you’ll find a list of interesting Florence shopping tours which will show you the essence of the Florentine creativity.
Florence fashion walking tour
This is a really good tour that starts in Piazza Santa Croce, where you will meet your guideat 2:15 pm. The guide will show you the School of leather, where artisans craft leatherware meticulously, and you will learn tips on what to look for when buying leather stuff. The next stop is at Gucci Museum, where you will be told about the history of the family and the brand and will have a chance to see collections created solely for the museum. Now, you will head to via Tornabuoni and via Strozzi, our most important shopping streets, and in particular to the Loretta Caponi atelier, where embroidery is protagonist. Finally, the tour features a visit to the Santa Maria Novella pharmacy, which creates perfumes and beauty products with natural ingredients since the 17th century. Here the tour will conclude at around 6 pm.
Private Florence artisans tour
This is a tour that will show you the real Made in Italy, showing you activities of the past which survive in Florence, in ancient narrow streets that only the locals know. Florentine craftsmen will give you live demonstrations of their activities as you walk and visit several shops. This includes restoration, marble paper, semi precious stone mosaics, ceramics and more. After reaching Piazza Santa Croce, you will visit the ancient School of Leather. The final stage of the tour is a visit to either the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum or the Gucci Museum. It is a private tour, and the professional guide will pick you up at your hotel (if in central Florence) and will give you personalized attention. The tour starts at 9 am and has a duration of around six hours.
- Private Florence Shopping Tour
- Price: $31.46
- Florence Shopping Tour: Barberino Designer Outlet
- Price: $14.60
What other suggestions can you find in this section?
- The best Florence tours and activities reviewed by a tour guide
- Walking tours
- Uffizi tours
- Florence in one day
- Duomo tours
- Vasari Corridor tours
- Inferno tours
- Skip-the-line David tours
- What to do on Mondays
- Tours of Florence from Rome or Venice
- Florence outdoor activities
- Florence food tours
- Wine tours in Tuscany
- Cooking classes
- Wine tours in Florence
- Day trips from Florence to Tuscany countryside
- Day trips from Florence to Pisa
- Day trips from Florence to Siena
- Day trips from Florence to Cinque Terre
- Day trips from Florence to Rome
- Day trips from Florence to Venice