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jun 09 2009

A resource for traditional shops in Florence

The gorgeous and ancient Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella, which even has its own museum (Courtesy Curious Expeditions/Flickr)

Florentines are proud, even snobby, about the city's heritage as a Renaissance leader in the arts, banking, and diplomacy, and they can be slow to warm to outsiders. I quickly pieced this together during a year abroad: My orientation leader, who grew up near Milan, joked that even after 20 years as a resident, he wasn't considered a Florentine; my neighborhood supermarket gave out a Toscani da sempre calendar with archival photos (translated literally, "Tuscans since always").

This same protective pride—along with interest from tourists—has helped sustain iconic Florentine businesses, including pharmacies, paper and ceramic workshops, and cafés that follow centuries-old methods.

The revamped bilingual website Esercizistorici.it makes it easy to plan a historic shopping outing. You can search by district or by type, and read in-depth tours. One-minute video clips take you inside businesses like Casa dei Tessuti, a venerable source for fabrics and custom-made clothes, and Il Latini, a fourth-generation trattoria.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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