The smell of leather and the smooth feel of it on your hands are just some of the sensory pleasures to be derived from visiting Florence, a city that has long been renowned as the center of the world’s finest leather craftsmanship. The city’s artisanal roots run deep, and the leather markets and shops that abound are both fun to browse and a great place to find something special to take home or give as a gift.
In the past, Florentine leather craftsmen were often highly secretive about their craft, resulting in a reputation for quality that was hard to dispel. Today, the craft has become more open to the public and there are a number of ways to identify genuine leather, such as by its texture (it should be soft, supple and smooth) and its color (tan or brown is best). You should also pay attention to how the item is put together—the stitching should be tight and regular, with small stitches sewn close together.
If you are not an animal lover but still want to purchase a leather item, look for the label “simipelle” or ecopelle”; this indicates that there is no animal hide involved in the product. Finally, if you are buying a bag and it is marked Made in Italy, make sure that at least 33% of the leather used is sourced from Italy; otherwise it is likely imported.
When shopping at a leather market or shop, remember that vendors at these places will go out of their way to sell you products. They might seem pushy, but it is totally fine to say no if you don’t feel comfortable making a purchase. florence leather bags