After we left Rome, Inès and I hopped on the train and headed up to Florence for three nights, just the two of us. Actually, I take that back. There was no "hopping" involved. More like dragging, lifting, struggling and sweating my tits off while trying to haul a stroller, car seat, suitcase, travel crib, Inès, myself, and one very full diaper bag from the platform up the three stairs onto the train. Again with the stairs! And again, NO ONE HELPED! It makes me cringe just thinking about it.
Anyways, once we finally made it to Florence we had a fabulous time, mostly filled with shopping. I know, I know, there are some amazing galleries, museums and churches to explore, but I had zero interest in waiting in lines to see them. So I decided shopping was the answer! No lineups and no stairs!! It was a win win.
Whenever I travel I tend to skip the big brand stores and head straight for the local artisanal boutiques. So I cruised past the Gucci's and the Zara's and headed straight for the old-world, one-of-a-kind artisans creating things I haven't seen anywhere else.
Here is my list of top shopping spots you need to add to your Florence itinerary:
A beautiful old Florentine shop selling the best nightgowns in the world, and all handmade! They have everything from sexy lace-trimmed slips, to slinky silk robes and even granny chic floral long sleeved nighties. They also have some gorgeous handmade baby and children's clothes, plus bed, bath and table linens. An absolute MUST when visiting Florence. This place isn't cheap. A short slinky lace-trimmed nightie will run you about 600 Euro!
Purchasing Florentine paper and stationary is a must when visiting Florence. This quaint little shop specializes in marbled and patterned paper, cards, stationary and leather bound journals. I loved their hand decorated patterned paper and cards. Lots of great items for gifts that don't take up a lot of room in your luggage! There are a few locations throughout Florence.
If you're on the hunt for beautiful children's clothes then this is the place to visit. All hand-embroidered and hand-finished garments in rich colours, patterns and of incredible quality. The clothes are beautiful so expect to pay top dollar, but they're worth every penny! I splurged and bought Inès a pretty pink floral romper, which she was been wearing a ton this summer! The staff were also very helpful, attentive and professional.
Street Doing Vintage Couture
To my surprise there are actually quite a few designer vintage stores in Florence. Inès and I went into several (mostly all the ones that didn't have stairs) and this was our favourite. It has an amazing selection from some of the best designers - from vintage Fendi, to 70s Gucci, and Valentino shades from every decade - it's a fashion girls paradise! They also had a beautiful selection of vintage Hermes silk scarfs.
All the garments and accessories are carefully curated, in excellent condition, and clearly presented and displayed. The prices are very fair and if you spend some time you can find some amazing pieces. I ended up buying a creamy Celine silk blouse and a vintage silk scarf. Fashionistas, this is heaven!
BONUS ROUND: Where to Stay & Eat
Inès was up by 6:00am which meant we were hitting the Florentine streets by 6:30am. Our first stop was always cappuccino and pastries at Scudieri. We'd enjoy these al banco, or standing up at the bar. To blend in: order and drink your coffee first, then pay after at the register.
We went here every morning while we were in Florence and the staff kinda got to know us a little bit and were always so happy to see Inès' smiling face in the morning whenever we walked in. The cafe was just around the corner from our hotel and in a prime location next to the Duomo. Also, if you appreciate fine china and tableware with a great view then this is the place for you!
After our Italian breakfast we'd wander over to the Duomo which was just steps away. The best part about being up early in Florence is that there were no tourists around! It was amazing and definitely the time to snap pictures.
I'd always make sure to be back at the hotel for nap time. We stayed at the boutique Firenze Number Nine Hotel & Spa, which was centrally located in the historic district of Florence. The service and staff were great, everyone was super friendly, helpful and spoke good English. Our room was HUGE for european standards and was elegantly furnished, clean and stylish. The bed was an actual king size bed - not one of those stupid tiny "double" beds - it was also super comfortable and the sheets were top notch. Would definitely recommend this place - a great inner city hotel!