I am completely overwhelmed by all the amazing materials that came out of our epic trip to Spain and Italy that I don’t know where to start. I am furiously in love with the entire trip, including all the little details that made it so beautiful. It was such a wonderful experience that, for me, it is simply sacrilegious to write a banal entry about it.
So I will start with something I could never mess up: shopping!
At last, we arrived in Florence after 6 days of heaven in Barcelona! As you can see, I was wearing one of the cool souvenir shirts I got from Barcelona. Leather shopping was on my top agenda during this European trip so I did it the first chance I got: upon arrival! I did my internet research before I left US so I kind of know where to go. Detailed shopping tips is one of the most important things that is missing in most travel guides so I had to scour the internet for it. It should be included in these books because there’s a big market for it! (Read half of the world count)
This is one of the two leather jackets I got from Florence. See that paper bag in the previous picture? Well, this is the content! I absolutely love the rich chocolate brown color of this jacket. It’s made of lambskin and is very soft and supple. The styling is also very modern and chic and you can’t beat the price. We walked all the way from the other side of the Arno to Santa Maria Novella area in order to reach Michelangelo’s leather store. The owner of the store is a jolly and proud Italian who’s been handcrafting leather goods for many years. A lot of the items were discounted but I could never really tell if they do it on purpose so that the tourists would feel like they are getting a good deal. Anyhow, I was able to further negotiate with him on top of the discounted price. I absolutely love it! It was the first thing I wore when I went back to work.
I bought the second pair of lambskin leather jacket soon after I got the first one (pictured above). It was just happenstance that I bought it, after coming across this wonderful leather shop called David’s Leather Store near Piazza della Signora. The price is almost double the cost of the first jacket but I understand why. It is also handmade, has more detailing and is thicker than the first one. They had to cut the sleeves because it was too long. The owner mentioned to me that a lot of his clients would replace the strap around the neck with a nice scarf for a more formal look. The title of this post came from my conversation with the owner. When we arrived the following day to pick it up, I asked him why his brand “Vera Pelle”, that is stamped in the lining of the jacket, is being sold all over Florence. He chuckled and said that all his foreign customers ask him the same question. I was slightly embarrassed to learn that “vera pelle” is Italian for “genuine leather”. LOL. Take note of that, ladies!
You’d think that I would stop at the two leather jackets.. I thought so too.. After I got over the sticker shock, I was ready to take on the Italian world of leather goods. I didn’t intend to buy bags there. I swear, there is no room in my luggage for anything more… But.. There was this store in front of Santa Croce called Peruzzi. They claim to be the first leather store in Florence. The store is really big, about 3 floors high and it was overran by Chinese tourists on the day that we were there. I was really impressed by the amount of quality goods inside that store but was turned off by the number of tourists there. It was so loud and so congested that we decided to leave. However, after more searching, I couldn’t find any other place that offers such diversity that we had to go back. I didn’t end up buying this bag there, however, because we found a store just half a block away that was selling the same exact bag for 30% off! And doesn’t it look like Prada? I could tell you that it has the same quality, it’s genuine leather, is handmade in Italy and about 90% less than Prada’s price.
The two caramel bags in this picture were bought from the same store as the previous picture. The red leather belt was from LBG Factory Store in Greve in Chianti and the last two belts were from a store in San Gimignano.
Here is how that bag looked in the mannequin.
The Chanel-inspired bag was from a small store in Montepulciano. It is genuine leather and is handmade in that town. The lining inside is not so great but the price is amazing! I am in love with the color, the style and the quality. I found so many designer looking bags in Florence and the whole Tuscan region that it’s quite overwhelming to pick the ones to buy. Also, a lot of them are the suppliers for major fashion houses around the globe that sometimes, the only difference between a 2,000-dollar and a 300-dollar bag is the label! Be careful when buying though. Make sure that it is “Made in Italy” and not just “Italian leather”. Also, it should be handmade and you should be able to feel the softness and smell it and pull it without ripping. The range of the jackets I saw in Italy were from 100 Euro to a couple thousand, depending on the authenticity, quality, style and the prestige of the store.
After buying so much leather goods, I became fully convinced that I should complete the wardrobe by getting some shoes too. There were plenty of amazing leather boots and shoes in Italy but most of them are pricey. I really didn’t want to spend anymore because I already bought a lot. However, I found these handmade, genuine leather shoes in Greve In Chianti for 50% off. I just wore them yesterday for a casual night out in San Francisco and they are super comfy!
This is one of the many beautiful leather boutiques in Italy. This one was taken in the quaint Tuscan hill town of Montepulciano. They’ve been around since the late 1800s! Its sister store next door has been visited by international dignitaries such as Prince Charles, Ehud Barak, Nelson Mandela, etc.
And here’s a picture of all the goodies! Total cost = $$$, total memories = priceless! Hope you enjoyed this post. Have a nice weekend!