Streetsmart: via de’ Neri
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Streetsmart: via de’ Neri

Thu 14 Jan 2016 1:00 AM

Bordered by via de’ Benci and a clear-cut path to piazza della Signoria, via de’ Neri is not exactly ‘off the beaten track.’ Its TripAdvisor fame precedes it, with household-name sandwich shops and chic coffee haunts cementing its popularity. But this always-busy strip has much more to it than mortadella and macchiati: it’s always worth wandering down, even on a full stomach.


The next time your locks could use some TLC, don’t make your hair appointment into a hassle. In fact, don’t make an appointment at all. Salone Contrasto is a godsend for busy guys and gals: with no need to call ahead, you can pop in the next time you find yourself in the neighborhood—keeping things efficient without compromising on style and quality. As a bonus, the Blow Bar offers a refreshing aperitivo as you get pampered—convenience doesn’t have to mean cutting out the little luxuries.


Music junkies, check your dignity at the door: you’ll rave and gush like a cheek-pinching grandparent when you see the rare albums, recycled CDs and vinyl records that Contempo keeps on rotation. With the technicolor paintings, patterns and funky album art covering the walls and ceilings, Contempo feels like the place Sergeant Pepper might have been most comfortable. Genres range from pop to punk, heavy metal to grunge, and you can always count on hearing something catchy to hum along to as you browse.


Those hailing from foreign shores have asked this million-dollar question many a time: where is my plug adapter? Stock up on several and never face the issue again at this one-stop electronics shop, perfect for bagging student-household necessities. Instead of saving a forgettable few cents by shopping train-station tables—where the merchandise inevitably fails to function after a few days—head to this family-owned shop for your fill of voltage converters, USB cords, flat irons, clocks, steamers and such.  


Embrace the Russian avant-garde in this homeware, art and gift shop that feels strangely but sublimely out of place in Florence. Owned by two Russian artists living long-term in Tuscany, the store is an offbeat decorator’s dream: think everything from constructivist-inspired tea kettles to Futurist-feeling prints and plates to mugs recalling Malevich. If your mantle of Tuscan ceramics and Florentine mosaics is starting to look a little monotonous, a stop in at Ola may be just what the doctor ordered.


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