They hang like grapes from the vines: Outdoor acres (or hectares) of purses, belts, coats, and attaché cases around every corner. Escaping the bazaar only “plants” you in alleys dotted with the same “fruit”.
Firenze (Florence to those outside the box) prides itself as a Leather Capitol and for good reason: Quality, quantity, price, and selection. The cradle of the Renaissance is a favoloso-fantastico flea market as well.
This Tuscan vortex of art and beauty begs to be strolled. The proximity of the Duomo to Ponte Vecchio to Pitti Palace to Piazza Signorelli to Santa Croce to Accademia makes walking the efficient if not only, way to get around. And as you stumble around the herd of tourists and 17,459 American College Students “studying” abroad, you realize how cabs and cars are impossible and bikes or scooters would fail to negotiate the mob packed alleyways. So you mosey along, admiring the sights, sounds, and scents, especially of the “fruit”.
Nothing like the aroma of leather!
There is a charm to this anti-antiseptic shopping mall alternative. No air-conditioning, restrooms, public seating areas, or security centers: Just row after row, streets after street, and piazza after piazza of stuff ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Like wine, there is grand vintage and rotgut. Steals and deals abound. You can purchase a handcrafted masterpiece worthy of Botticelli or buy a nasty naked David magnet for your fridge. You’ll survey the satchels while someone picks your pocket or snap up that new wallet, even though your old one has a few miles left on it.
After the pulsing armpit of outdoor commerce, you flop at an outdoor café or collapse in a trattoria to “heal” yourself with pasta cinghiale (wild boar), cheese, caprese, mixed greens, and/or gelato Florentino.
But, after the pilgrimage through the Leather Vineyards, make sure you sample the real grape deal.