Repubblica Square is the geographic centre of modern Florence and has long been the social and economic heart of the city. It was the site of the ancient forum of Roman Florentia and was the most populated and active district in medieval times. For centuries businesses thrived around Orsamichele Church, where the votive tabernacles are still kept. The modern day structure was built on the ruins of the ancient centre and its lay-out is the same as when Florence was the capital of Italy. In the 1920s and 1930s the café terraces around the square were the most popular cultural salons in Italy. The Giubbe Rosse Café has been here since 1897 and its waiters still wear the traditional red jackets that the bar takes its name from. Enjoy a coffee in one of these bars, perhaps after lunch at Paszkowski’s, the square’s most cosmopolitan bar which livens up the area in the summer months with live music.
Or perhaps you might prefer Gilly’s fine liberty style tea room which is the oldest and most aristocratic pastry shop in Florence. To top off the experience you should buy some sweets at Donnini’s, known for centuries as the highest quality sweets in town. We leave the square to have a walk under the arcades of Via Pellicceria. Here, tourists will find local bouquinistes (book vendors with market stalls on the street) and the city’s liveliest and cheapest plant and flower market, every Thursday. Right in front of the post office (an area of which is open to the public and has monumental stained-glass windows that deserve a short visit) there is Bar Tabacchi La Posta. This bar offers is s a nice place to stop and have lunch surrounded by the warmth of a small family-run business.
At the corner of via Porta Rossa, mentioned by Puccini in Gianni Schicchi, we find among many shops and historical monuments the old haberdashery Quercioli & Lucherini.Not far from Palazzo Davanzati, which houses the beautiful Museum of the Florentine House in the Middle Ages, you will find the Armoury Bulli. This interesting shop specialises in hunting articles and was founded in 1886. Further down the road we find Giuseppe Gazzarrini’s leather goods shop, while book-lovers can visit Bruno Baccani‘s old bookshop. Turning into Via Tornabuoni you will enter the city’s most expensive area. Top designer stores line the street as well as exclusive local boutiques, such as the age-old jeweller’s, Parenti.Those who like artistic prints must pay a visit to Via della Vigna Nuova and Giovanni Baccani’s shop. This well-known prints store has been in business for more than a century. Ugo Poggi in Via Strozzi, on the other hand, is the perfect destination for those who want to buy china or crystal.
Anglophiles should visit the Old England Store in via dei Vecchietti, where you find not only tea and teapots, but also clothing and giftware, all in a very British atmosphere . Near Piazza San Giovanni, you’ll also find the Casa dei Tessuti (The House of Textiles). This traditional shop sells all kinds of fabrics and drapery.
(Source: Esercizi Storici Fiorentini)