Art, Travel & Life in Italy & Europe

What gift to bring back from Florence?

chiaverini-albicoccheAn issue I often face, that I also find people asking on forums is: “What should I bring people from Florence“? Sometimes I’m just going one or two regions away in Italy, so I need to find things that are not just Italian, but truly Florentine.

I am against the purchase of cookie-cutter, made in china or otherwise imported souvenirs. Please, if you’re going to bring someone a gift from Florence, buy something truly local. This way you support local artisans and economy.

Here’s a list of the top 5 gifts made by Florentine companies and manufactured here or nearby, from cheap to pricey.

marvismint2.75 euro: Marvis toothpaste (dentifricio): great retro packaging and tube are a swanky must-have in any hipster’s bathroom – made in via Pisana, available at most supermarkets.

3-4 euro: Chiaverini jam – Many flavours come in their classic packaging: a neat aluminum/ tetrapak  jam jar that is light and resists packing in a suitcase (use a plastic bag just to be sure); some flavours also available in an aluminum tube with a beautiful label or just normal glass jars. Made in Florence since 1928 in via Locatelli (Romito area), available at any supermarket.

farmaciasmn8 euro and up: soap and other smelly products from Officina Profumo (Farmacia) Santa Maria Novella, via della Scala. This historic pharmacy has been in continuous operation since the 14th century, annexed to the Dominican convent of the same name. They no longer sell cures, just perfumed items. It’s a strong smelling place that is worth going to see (and smell), as it also has some historic shelving, maiolica, and scientific objects on display. Everything is pricey but the place is so famous, bringing back an 8 euro bar of soap is a great fit – it comes with nice packaging and information about the store, and you can tell the recipient the story of your visit, which is sure to be an experience worth recounting.

 

Hand-sewn book from Abacus

12 euro or more: handmade leather-bound book from Abacus – they’re a family-run business known for their leather-bound books, as it is run by a couple who mainly does restoration of antique volumes. Their paper items are really authentic and not tourist-priced. Via Ginori 30R. If they’re not in the store, they may be at the bindery next door.

600 euros more or less: Gucci handbag (or anything else) – Gucci’s corporate headquarters are still in Florence, and their leather goods are all designed and hand-made in Italy.

I’m sure I’ve missed a lot here – can you think of other gifts from Florence? (But not from Prato – cantucci – or the rest of Tuscany, just truly Florentine companies!)

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By: arttrav

Alexandra Korey aka ArtTrav is a Florence-based art historian and arts marketing consultant.

  • nina

    nice ideas, sans the Gucci though! Although, yes still in Florence, they outsource most of their leather dyeing and working to third-party factories around town. Most of these factories use underpaid and not-insured workers, Italian and non. From the series: why underpay workers in Asia when you can do it here?!

  • http://www.miriamrowe.wordpress.com/ Miriam

    This is REALLY useful! I wish I'd known these things when I was there… but at least I know them for next time!

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    I know, Nina, I saw that episode of Report too. However, Gucci was the only one of the high fasion purse manufacturers NOT mentioned in the show that denounced the use of illegal mistreated chinese works in sub-contracting. Sadly you may be right, Gucci may be guilty too, though I wish they weren't.

  • Emiko

    Love these ideas – even though I know this was posted a while ago, they’re perfect for christmas presents! I’d also add in Paolo Carandini’s beautiful artisan leather objects over on Borgo Allegri and Giuliano Ricchi’s artisan silver objects in pure Florentine style in Piazza Santo Spirito (he’s made things for Dior and Profumeria SMN but his workshop functions as shop too so you can go directly there).

  • http://www.arttrav.com arttrav

    Hey Emiko! thanks – i’ll re-share this post near the holidays, now that you
    remind me!! THose are some nice suggestions – in fact there are a lot of
    artisans’ products worth including in a whole other list. Incidentally i’m a
    regular user of the toothpaste mentioned here now, not just for the cool
    retro packaging but because it tastes great! It’s in my pile of things to
    bring as gifts to canada over xmas…