Recently, especially after I furnished my apartment, I realized I have a true passion for everything that has to do with interior design. I wouldn’t call myself a true expert (if any on of you are architects, you’ll have to forgive any mistakes), but I can say that I’ve developed my own personal style, hunting for furnishing and accessories all over Florence. I thought I’d share some of what I learned and put it in an “interior design tour” through the center of Florence.
Let’s start from the lovely Piazza Santa Maria Novella where our hotel is located. Taking the charming Via de’ Fossi from the square in the direction of the Arno, we already come to the first antique dealers and a few art galleries too. The window of the Frilli gallery will grab your attention right away with its beautiful marble statues. It’s worth stopping by the picturesque courtyard about halfway down the street on the right which has a few delightful furniture and vintage clothing shops. When you get to Piazza Goldoni you won’t be able to help but admire the “ultra-chic” windows of Flair that combines furniture and accessories from different eras and styles for an atmosphere of absolute elegance. I suggest you take a little side trip to the right on Borgo Ognissanti. After some Tuscan ceramic shops and a few must-see antique shops, you get to the Kartell shop. Needless to say, Kartell is not a Florentine brand (it’s in every major city), but I think it is always worth a visit, if only to distract yourself from all the antiques with a healthy dose of modern design. Plus, Philippe Starck’s famous polycarbonate designs go well with any decor, even all antiques. Try it and you’ll see!
Going back to the river, cross Ponte alla Carraia to get to the Oltrarno. This is Florence’s historic of artisan workshops, definitely worthy of their own tour (I promise to tell you about them in a later post). But to stay on topic for the time being. I’ll just guide you along Via dei Serragli with its lovely noble palazzi until we get to Santo Spirito. Here even those with smaller wallets will be happy as we can find some “old stuff” full of personality. Clearly nothing valuable, just pretty old things. It’s like rummaging through grandma’s attic! In Piazza Santo Spirito itself, in the heart of the Oltrarno, there is a picturesque market of small antiques every second Sunday for the full day. Once we get to Piazza Pitti, we go back towards the Arno along the famed Via Maggio, the historic street of Florentine antique dealers. Here you will find pieces worth great sums for those with plenty to spend. But it doesn’t cost anything to window shop and can inspire great ideas, can’t it? You might be dazzled by its glittering crystal chandeliers, playful baroque cherubs, or ancient, exotic Chinese vases.
But let’s get back to our tour. Turning right onto Borgo San Jacopo, we find several shops of prints, including antique ones and reproductions. A beautiful, black-and-white print of Florence could be a great souvenir idea, don’t you think?
Returning to the Arno, we cross Ponte Vecchio (any self-respecting tour of Florence has to cross Ponte Vecchio at least once!) I suggest you stop by “Lungarno Details”, right by Lungarno Acciaiuoli, featuring extremely elegant furnishings and accessories with modern designs in which “black & white” star.
I know you’ll probably be tired by now. But bear with me for a final thing because you can’t neglect the historic Mercato delle Pulci Flea Market) in the charming Piazza dei Ciompi (Santa Croce area). Here you’ll find a bit of everything, from grandma’s lace bits to replacement crystals for your chandeliers. There are used books, 33′ and 45′ records, Art Nouveau lamps, art deco armchairs and even some gorgeous modern furniture along with some priceless antiques. All soaked in an atmosphere of yesteryear.
If you still aren’t satiated, I’ll just let you know that every third weekend there is the antique market at the Fortezza da Basso where you can find some great things at reasonable prices.