Top tips on how to get the best shopping experience in Tuscany

Local cheeses for sale in a shop in Arezzo, Italy, near our Tuscany boutique hotels

If you’re planning on bringing some of Italy home with you in the form of memorable gifts and souvenirs, Tuscany is without a doubt one of the best destinations. It’s packed full of charming cities with winding backstreets filled with traditional stores, while regional producers, artisans and craftsmen are also dotted across the region, offering far more than you will discover at the usual tourist sites. If you’re checking into one of our Tuscany boutique hotels in the future, follow our top tips to get the very best out of your shopping experience in Tuscany.

You’ll find the best items (mostly) in the larger towns and villages

It’s a common misconception that you will find the best artisanal wares in the hidden-away villages and hamlets – the majority of these are too off the grid with a population too small for any shops whatsoever. While some food and wine producers can be found selling their goods at their countryside estates, most of the best craft products created by artisans can be found in the stores lining the streets of the more popular towns. While the larger towns and cities may have more touristy shopping districts, if you’re willing to dive into the backstreets, you’ll find a diverse range of shops and items.

Pay attention to opening and closing times

In the smaller and more traditional Tuscan towns especially, many shops will shut down completely for the lunch period. Lunchtime is a leisurely and relaxed time of the Italian day, and so shops are closed for a couple of hours at a time. Typically they are closed between 1 and 3pm, though sometimes it can be as late as 4pm. Avoid disappointment by visiting either in the morning or in the late afternoon, and join the Italians in a laid-back and delicious lunch!

Buy direct from the source where possible

Though the towns are by far the best place to discover the work of many artisans and craftsmen, a number of food and wine producers often cut out the middleman and sell their produce directly from their farm or vineyard in the heart of the countryside. Here you’ll enjoy some of the best experiences possible in Tuscany, as not only can you be guaranteed an authentic product, but you’ll immerse yourself in the local culture and the processes which go into growing or producing the end product.

Look out for goods Tuscany specialises in

It goes without saying that Tuscany specialises in the making of delicious cheeses and wines in particular, but it also specialises in producing some arts and crafts over others. Among the best items to keep a look out for are handbags and purses, made according to classic designs and styles, housewares made from ceramic or olive wood, as well as paintings, jewellery and hand-woven cotton scarves.

Image: Stefano Costatini, Franco Folini, available under Creative Commons

Andrew is a firm believer that travelling like a local inevitably leads to the best off-the-beaten-path finds which truly make a destination remarkably more memorable. From traditional Indian festivals in humid Hyderabad to fresh seafood pasta by the Sorrentine Peninsula, he appreciates variety when travelling. He hasn't been everywhere, but it’s on the list.