People often ask me where “real” Florentines go shopping. The answer is that we do shop downtown, and at outlet malls. But in town, via Gioberti is one of my favourite streets for a stroll, especially around Christmastime. On Sundays in December the street is pedestrian-only (which is a blessing cuz the sidewalks are very narrow). It’s especially lovely to go for a walk here when the lights go on after dark and there is a palpable air of holiday excitement. This street is the commercial nucleus of an upscale residential area just outside the viali, and shoppers are often dressed to the hilt, as are their children and their dogs.

via Gioberti
via Gioberti

Via Gioberti also sometimes hosts special events. Last summer there was a “notte bianca” — late-night street party — with musicians and entertainers, and shops open till midnight. The fuzzy photo here shows swing dancers in the street.

Notte Bianca summer street party
Notte Bianca summer street party

Via Gioberti is a “centro commerciale naturale” – an area encouraged as a “natural mall”. It has just about everything from shoe stores to a cartoleria and a number of great jewelry stores. There is Oviesse and Upim (mid-level department stores), Benetton, a good purse store and a few lingerie stores. The internal area called “Le Nove Botteghe” contains an excellent childrens’ toy store called Imaginarium.

Best sweets on the street
Best sweets on the street

When you are ready for a break, Cafe’ Serafini is perfect for a snack at any time of day. It may be one of my favourite Florentine bars because you can sit down without paying extra and the food is good – from sweets to sandwiches, and excellent primi for lunch (personally I like the boiled vegetables). The pasticceria is produzione propria (made on location). Today, after getting some good deals on cashmere at Upim, I sat down and ate a most divine apple pastry.

Via Gioberti internal stores
Via Gioberti internal stores

 

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