Shopping in Firenze

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Shopping in frenzy (Firenze. geddit geddit?)

Hahaha. okay. Not funny. Firenze is the italian name for Florence (if I’m not mistaken). So don’t be alarm if you arrive in the city to see Firenze on all the signs instead of the word Florence, and think you are in the wrong city. Hahaa. Anyway, our day started at 9.30am (our latest so far can you imagine. Zzzz). We got another guide for the morning’s walking tour of the city where we visited the Piazza Della Signoria Florença Itália, with all the David, Perseus & Napoleon statues and what not, and two of the main leather markets (Florence is a leather city *heart eyes emoji*), and a couple of the famous pontes (bridges) of Firenze.

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The waiting area in the bus interchange.

During lunch though, we (the 3 Singaporeans) decided not to join the rest of the group to save some time for shopping as we wanted to visited this outlet called The Mall which was about a 45 mins bus ride out of the city. We were quite lost while finding the bus interchange (called Bus Italia) near the central train station because it was tucked within a building. So do ask for directions from locals! Had to get tickets, about €10 (to & fro if I’m not wrong) and the bus leaves very on time, on the dot. We missed it by just 1 minute because I was stuck waiting in the toilet and had to wait another half an hour for the next one *cries*. So we ended up having sandwiches for lunch at the small ‘cafe’ in the interchange to kill time.

And when we finally got there, it was really pretty darn disappointing. The entire area is outdoors (its not inside a shopping mall, the boutiques are in separate buildings). Nothing much to see, products weren’t that awesome, neither were the discounts. Only Coach’s discounts were worth considering. The Prada boutique was a complete turn off though. When I entered the doors, the whole place sounded like a market. There were 4 lines at the cashiers, and every counter top was filled with flashy bags with Chinese customers demanding for this product and that. Ultimate turn off man. I had no mood at all after that. There was even a line to enter the Gucci boutique. So you can imagine how many of them were there. The rest of the place was rather empty though. Lol. And we regretted going all the way there. Which meant we were done in less than an hour. So we took the bus back to Florence. Sigh pie. The other ladies in the group were much smarter and did their research though. They went to the Barberino Designer Outlet which had more mainstream brands, and the discounts there were much better! I heard that the bus there was from the same interchange. So if you’re going outlet shopping, don’t make the same mistake as us!

But I wanted to go back to the city to do some leather shopping for a friend’s bag request and my dad’s leather bomber jacket (and *ahem* for me if possible haa). We took a break in McDs to rest our feet and got a cuppa. And like ohmygawd, the McCafe is so cheapppp. A cup of coffee + croissant set was just €1.90?! And its not bad quality okay. No where can you find a deal like this in sg. No.where.

Mercato Centrale.
Mercato Centrale.

After resting up, off we went hunting. Entered every leather bomber jacket shop there is in Florence to look for my dad’s jacket. But because his criteria was soooo specific (the aviator kind with fleece collar you know), it was near impossible to find. Most tend to have this cheap look too. When the sky got dark and I started panicking because I have yet to get my friend’s bag! We started asking for directions to Mercato Centrale (or Central Market), which was actually the wrong market that I wanted to go. In this one, the leather goods is like copy paste x100. Every cart sells the same thing. Literally. Just one glance and you’ve seen the entire market. And by then I only had 30 mins to get to the right one called Mercato del Porcellino (or Warthog Market) before it closes at 6.30pm (SO DAMN EARLY). I honestly felt that this market had more quality and unique goods with many different models compared to those at Mercato Centrale, even though the place is much smaller and more cramp. So I made a mad dash with google maps in hand, and the two uncles trailing behind me. hahahaha.

Leather galore at Mercato del Porcellino.
Leather galore at Mercato del Porcellino.

When we finally made it, all the shops were closing. Owners were packing the leather goods into carts and trucks etc. And I just dove into the market looking around frantically and I saw this stall with this old uncle and I pointed to a bag hung up high and asked if I could take a look. I was soooo thankful for him. In the midst of all the panic and rush, he was so calm and collected. He took two bags down for me, explained the leather quality, told me that it could fit a 15″ laptop, showed me the pockets and zips etc, and offered me the bigger one at €100, and the smaller one at €90. The original price of the big one was €170, and he just cut off €70 straight without me even bargaining because I was the last customer. Omg, love him so much. So I bought it immediately because I was so thankful. hahaha. So yea, a tip is, if you want drastic discounts, be their last customer and go at closing time. LOL. So if you’re dropping by the place in future, look for this old uncle with white hair and kinda looks like a retired sailor. Rest of the stall owners are kinda young and rude to be honest. I’ll rather give him business any day.

So after that freaking tiresome ordeal, my dad said we should treat ourselves to some gelato, haha! He knows my heart. Venchi it is! €2.50 for two flavours from such a luxurious looking shop is…really pretty worth it. And we slowly trudged back to our hotel for dinner and rest our feet. Phew. This post was long. Hope you guys will find it helpful though!

Meanwhile you can keep in the loop at my instagram account @phoebe.philo or my Facebook Album #BeeingInEurope for the rest of the images for the trip. I’ve been constantly updating there as well (:

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