Between museum and site visits: buying leather in Florence

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Florence has long had a reputable history of leather production and the city is filled to the brim with opportunities to purchase leather goods that are practically pieces of art. However, Italian leather comes with a higher price tag and we want to make sure you are investing wisely. Here are a couple tips to read over before forking over the cash.

san lorenzo leather marketWhen buying leather, check out multiple stores before buying. This not only lets you know, relatively, what the prices are but also helps you with bargaining when you are actually ready to make a purchase! Don’t be deceived into thinking that the leather market surrounding the Central Market is where you should buy your leather – consider popping in to leather shops in between site and museum visits or even make a special detour to the leather school that is connected to the Santa Croce church.

There are a number of “tests” you can employ to figure out if you are actually looking at real, Italian leather.

First, check the label! This may seem overly obvious, but a lot of vendors carry goods that are made in China or Spain, hoping that unwitting buyers won’t notice. Make sure it says “Made in Italy”!

Use your senses! Smell the leather to make sure it doesn’t smell like dyes or chemicals. Also, feel the leather – it should be soft. If you were to ball up a section of the leather, it should spring right back and not form many wrinkles.

Sometimes, vendors will try to pass off vinyl as leather. Ask for a flame test (where your vendor will light a match or use a lighter on the leather) – it sounds weird, we know, but if your vendor acts offended or refuses, just walk away. Real leather will be unaffected by the fire, whereas vinyl will melt.

Finally, don’t be afraid to bargain. Be relentless and employ all the tricks in the book- after making sure that your leather is real and of high quality, that price is the only things standing in between you and your perfect Florence souvenir!

Buona fortuna!


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