Forgive the Robert Frost reference, but via dei Federighi just may be Florence’s proverbial road less traveled. Connecting via della vigna Nuova with via della Spada, this forgotten street has a number of funky and fashionable shops guaranteed to bring out your inner ‘kid in a candy store.’ Make sure your path winds its way to this holiday shopping haven during December: it will make ‘all the difference’ to everyone on your list.
Marino Marini Museum
Easily one of Florence’s most underrated museums, the Marino Marini is home to an impressive permanent collection of works from its namesake sculptor, who passed away in the 1970s. The museum quite literally bridges Renaissance Florence with the contemporary city: housed in the converted church of San Pancrazio, it features a passageway running toward Leon Battista Alberti’s Holy Sepulchre, modeled after Christ’s tomb in Jerusalem. The bulk of the programming, however, is adamantly au courant: think cutting-edge video installations, international exhibitions and PG-13 performers that would make David blush. Next in the pipeline is a site-specific solo show from Argentine artist Pablo Bronstein, Studies in Mannerist Decomposition (opening December 12 at 7pm).
La Bottega della Frutta
This bottega’s got serious bragging rights: it’s one of only four Tuscan businesses with a Foodies star from the prestigious Gambero Rosso publication. Headed by charismatic couple Elisabetta and Francesco, this one-stop food shop could spur you to swear off supermarkets once and for all. La Bottega della Frutta is a gold mine of kitchen goodies, from barbeque sauce and beers to candy canes and cookie tins. Load up on puntarelle, Piedmont chocolate and panettone, or snag a bag of Pepperidge Farm cookies if you’re craving your favorite stateside sweets. Elisabetta speaks fondly of the varied clientele, made up of loyal Florentines and ‘boomerang travelers’ who always make their way back.
Mercatino di Ninni
This wide-ranging women’s boutique is tailor-made for anyone who fancies herself a fashion ‘mixologist.’ In our quick survey of the stock on an average afternoon, playfully boxy Fendi backpacks, pink Prada loafers, Narciso Rodriguez blouses and classic Chanel bags were just a few of the stellar items spotted. The shop brims with statement shoes and sophisticated staples that beg to be paired with your everyday basics. But don’t assume the luxe labels are out of reach: given that much of the merchandise comes from past collections—or has barely-there defects only the designer would notice—Mercatino di Ninni’s prices are more of the ‘investment piece’ than the ‘in your dreams’ variety.
I Tuscani 2
Modest and modern, rustic yet refined, the second location of this San Frediano hotspot is brand new on the block, open all day and an absolute must for meat lovers. Spanning steaks and cold cut platters to sausages and salame, most menu options are no-holds-barred hearty, with fresh grilled vegetable antipasti thrown in for good measure. New for the via dei Federighi location is a sandwich station, teeming with choice toppings from all over Tuscany, and the perfect addition to your downtown- lunch rotation. Though the space appears small when you first walk in, there’s a hidden staircase leading to a homey basement where the team plans for live music and more events to take place.
Patti & Co.
Just call it via de Federighi’s very own ‘cabinet of curiosities.’ Entering Patti & Co. feels something like walking into an Eastern-spiced version of Alice’s wonderland. Though the store’s household objects, clothes and accessories come from all corners of the world, Patti & Co.’s character takes most of its cues from modern art collecting, the 1950s and today’s Japan. Handwoven kimonos hang alongside tartan skirts and grandpa shirts, catering to both the tragically hip and the begrudgingly traditional. You’ll also find home decor, WWII military gear, books, nightstand knick-knacks and an overall aesthetic that’s one part bourgeois-bohemian, one part Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
Frasi di Simone Righi
Ever wondered who inspires the styles of the suavest men at Pitti Uomo? Meet Simone Righi, the face of Frasi, and a favorite subject of street style photographer Scott Schumann, better known as The Sartorialist. Righi’s menswear shop is for guys who don’t mess around—for the gentiluomo who dares to dress better than he has to. Best known for bespoke shirts, which typically take a month to make, Frasi is a prime Florentine player on the international men’s fashion scene and a big-name buyer destination during key trade events. Stop in if you or your other half hope to add a haute touch to that wardrobe this holiday season.