Florence is a world famous attraction, known around the globe for its artistic treasures, its history and the beauty of its buildings and sculptures.
Art and monuments are paramount, but a visit to Florence is also a great occasion to enjoy shopping, thanks to the variety of offers that can be found in the city, starting with high street designer shops, moving through the local markets and finishing to the antiques and handicraft shops that can be found anywhere in the historical center.
Located at the very heart of the historical part of the city, next to the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio, Hotel Axial is the ideal spot to begin the discovery of these places.
The area between Via Calzaiuoli and Via Tornabuoni, and between Piazza Duomo and Ponte Vecchio is where the most exclusives and renowned boutiques can be found.
All the best and most luxurious brands (Armani, Tods, Hogan, Gucci, Prada, Dolce e Gabbana, Louis Vitton, Hugo Boss) are within five minutes walking distance from our hotel with their flag stores.
If luxury products are not your target of choice and you are looking for a more casual alternative there is a great variety of other famous stores in the same area (Sysley, Stefanel, Pianegonda, Gas Jeans, Energie, Disel, Replay, Miss Sixty , Benetton, Foot Locker, Yamamay, Pinko, Carnisa, Mandarina Duck, Furla, Zara, Massimo Dutti, Murphy and Nye), while if you are looking for the shopping mall experience, Coin (via Clazaiuoli) and La Rinascente (Via Calimala, extremely beautiful is the terrace on the top floor from where is possible to have a coffee overlooking Florence) are great places to visit.
Close to the Hotel Axial there are three extremely famous markets.
The "Mercato di San Lorenzo", it's about three minutes walking distance from the Hotel, gets its name from San Lorenzo's church which is quite close to the market building.
Inside the building there are only food stalls, many restaurants owners and Florentine residents come here to do their shopping. The atmosphere is electric, lots of colours, smells and voices fill the air in the early morning, when the market is opened.
Around the church and the market building there are a lot street vendors offering souvenirs, leather goods, trinkets and cheap clothes.
At the same walking distance from the Hotel, but on the opposite direction to the "Mercato di San Lorenzo", in Via Calimala there is the "Mercato del Porcellino" (Market of the Wild Boar), specialized in handicrafts (wood and textiles) and leather goods. Takes its name from the famous wild boar bronze statue that is located at the side of the market square.
The "Mercato delle Pulci" (Flea Market), is located in Piazza dei Ciompi, around ten minutes away from the Hotel, and it is the most important antiques market in Florence.
In Florence there is a strong tradition for hand made goods, concentrated in the center of the city where a lot of small workshops are still producing beautiful objects using a vast array of knowledge and techniques originated centuries ago and passed over from father to son until modern days.
There is a thin border between handicraft and art in Florence. A clear example, of the artistic influence in the handicraft business, are the jewelery shops located in ponte Vecchio, five minutes away from Hotel Axial.
Ponte Vecchio, and the surrounding areas, has seen the presence of jewelers since 1593, when the first artisans moved to the area.
In time more artisans moved to the area, and today thanks to the skill of the master jewelers that work there, is possible to find goods that can be considered true works of art, inspired by the artistic surrounding that the city of Florence provide.
A typical example of this union between handicrafts and art is a crafting technique known as "Commesso Fiorentino", or Florentine Mosaic.
The Medici family was a huge sponsor of this technique and financed during the years a lot of artists to develop their skills.
Today there are only few laboratories who are continuing to use this ancient method by which several small pieces of different type of stones are arranged one close to the other to create motives, figures and colour mixes that are then used to embellish tables, frames and several other objects.
Examples of this technique are sold in specialized shops and can also be found at the "Museo dell'Opificio delle Pietre Dure".
Leather workers have also been a building block of the ancient Florence business, in the Santa Croce area there is the School of Leather, a world famous institution for the techniques involved in the making of leather goods, and next to the school there are several shops selling precious leather handicrafts and clothes.
Moving on the other side of the Arno river, called "Oltrarno" from the locals, there are the areas of San Frediano and Santo Spirito. Both have a strong presence of laboratories, small and bigger, working with a lot of different products, ranging from jewelry to leather, wood objects and old furniture restorers, ceramic makers, frame chiselers, ancient book restorers, a trip through the alleys of these areas is bound to be interesting (approx. 15 minutes away from the Hotel).
Walking through Via Maggio and Via dei Fossi, where all the antiques shops are concentrated and most of the pieces are on display outside, is like taking a stroll through a museum under the Tuscan sun! Another important international event, the "Biennale dell'antiquariato", held in the prestigious Corsini Palace, attracts scores of connoisseurs, collectors and enthusiasts of antiques and rare collectibles.
» art and history