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volante: italy

The Florentine insiderThe Florentine insider

Firenze has many secrets—and great buys and places to eat, if you know where to look
by Stanley Moss
some photographs by the author


€700 Real Alligator Handbag at Infinity Leather Shop

Here’s a super deal for bargain hunters: a hand-made real alligator bag for only €700, the kind of artisan object that usually goes for €3,000 or more in the designer shops. The kicker: it can’t be shipped, owing to bureaucratic regulations which require complicated export certificates and mysterious fees. You have to carry the bag out of Italy by hand. Still, it’s an amazing opportunity, considering. This shop designs fashion-forward bags quickly copied by the big stores and brands, and this particular bag is a classic.


Borgo S. S. Apostoli, 18r
50123 Firenze
Telephone +39 055 239-84-05



Artisan Deruta at La Botteghina
They’ve been making signature ceramics up in the hills of Deruta (just south of Firenze) since Roman times, and everywhere in Tuscany it’s easy to spot the production items that have been sold in Italy forever. You know them by sight, the rooster pitcher, the double-headed bearded guy, the fat mugs. It’s a more difficult task to locate the exceptional one-of-a-kind work rendered by artisans in the traditional style. Proprietor Daniela has direct connections to these people, and if you walk to the back of her little shop hidden on via Guelfa, on the right hand wall, tucked away in a corner you will find the real thing at amazing prices. These beautiful, tasteful and refined ceramics are scarce or hard to find. You won’t see a lot like it in the shops of Firenze, and you won’t regret shipping home a few choice pieces.


La Botteghina del ceramista
Via Guelfa, 5/r
50129 Firenze
Telephone +39 055 28-73-67



Pappardelle to die for at Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco
Order the pappardelle in this place and Marco, the owner’s son, may recommend you taste it first before shovelling fresh-grated Parmigiano on to it. He’s right: doesn't need a thing, just a glass of the local chianti to wash it down. After you’ve packed that away, why not try some fresh mascarpone with shaved white truffles? If you’re still sitting upright in your chair, after your espresso corto, knock back a shot of Amaro Montenegro, and try not to shout hooray at the cheque which reads €32.
   This typical restaurant now in its 25th year of operation offers great hospitality in an easy, relaxed setting.


Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco
Borgo S. Jacopo, 43r
50125 Firenze
Telephone +39 055 21-57-06



Great values in the closeout bin at Madova
Madova, the only glove factory in Firenze, has occupied the tiny space at the corner on the far side of the Ponte Vecchio on via Gucciardini for decades. Legend has it that Madonna still has her gloves made here. Every season, new styles placed in the window stop pedestrians cold, and the curious cluster around gawking at new contrasting colours, stitching, and wild innovations this traditional glovemaker constantly dreams up.
   But crazy gloves don’t always sell through, and a quick drop-in to the shop often leads to real bargains in the close-out bin, where deep discounts, sometimes 20 per cent of original retail, mean lucky customers can score big. Even the normal-priced items are a great value, though, and there’s a special pleasure in slipping on hand-made gloves in kooky colours, lost in the sweet swirly fragrances of fine leather.


Madova Gloves
Via Gucciardini, 1/r
50125 Firenze
Telephone +39 055 239-65-26



Stanley Moss is travel editor of Lucire.



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Botteghina platter—this one went for €50.

Truffles at Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco.

Ponte Vecchio, by night.

Madova gloves, from the only glove factory in Firenze—the bargain bins have some deep discounts.




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Expanded from issue 22 of Lucire