Day 12 – Florence > The Mall > shopping in Florence > dinner in Florence
My day had finally come! I had been waiting for an ultimate shopping day for so long, and even before the trip, Mr Map and I had been negotiating about how long we would spend at the outlet. Funnily enough, a couple of years ago, I took him to his first ever outlet shopping whilst holidaying in Hawaii, and he ended up buying a lot more than I did. Given the big Italian designer brands, I had been anticipating this for a while. I even woke up without an alarm. It was probably the least exciting part for Mr Map though.
As we were told that we need to get there early before everyone bought the popular items, we took the bus at 9am to go to The Mall as it opens at 10am. It took about 1 hour for the bus ride to get there. It was quite easy to find the bus station as we saw a line of Asians queuing up from afar.
I was checking the map and trying to figure out which shop I should visit first. There is a big Prada outlet located right next to The Mall. A lot of people say it is a lot cheaper to buy Prada products in Italy, especially in the outlet, and not just because of the tax refund. We decided to go there as soon as we got off the bus.
We were within the first batch of people getting into the shop 😛 As our bus pulled in there was already a small line, though we got there just in time for the doors to open, and the line vanished into the store near immediately.
There were some off seasons handbags, wallets and all type of leather goods on the ground floor. I bought a classic wallet for myself and my dad for a total of €270 (before the tax refund), almost 50% off the regular price. For someone who has zero interest in shopping, Mr Map also got himself a classic leather wallet. There were quite a lot of items to choose from but some of the designs were a bit over-the-top and some were just not my style. My wallet would be thankful for this.
There is also a massive Gucci outlet opposite to Prada and it even has a Gucci cafe?! I am not interested in this brand though.
The Mall is a luxury outlet. Unlike the massive outlet in US, it is actually quite small and only luxury brands are found in this outlet.
Here is the review after my visit based on the popular luxury brands:
Alexander McQueen – worth a visit as they have the signature skull printed scarf and high heels in big size (very slim chance for Asian small feet).
Balenciaga – no chance to find any classic Balenciaga bags or anything nice. I love this brand but all the bags in the outlet had a strange leather pattern and design (something like this Balenciaga bag).
Bottega Veneta – definitely go for it. They stick with their classic design and I don’t think they have anything too crazy. A big discount from the normal price as well.
Burberry – I am never a big fan of their stuff but they do have nice cashmere scarves. It would still cost you around €200 after discount.
Hogan / Tod’s store – Go for it. It is a big store with Hogan and Tod’s products and you will also find a small amount of Roger Vivier shoes and bags in big discount.
Salvatore Ferragamo – DEFINITELY GO FOR IT. Their heels are very comfortable and all look very classic. Most importantly, they seem to have smaller size for Asian feet. If you are looking for the classic bow heels, you might be disappointed as they don’t have many.
Sergio Rossi – go for it if you like their design. I tried their heels but it was not very comfortable for my feet.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t give any review on the men’s brands like Ermenegildo Zegna as Mr Map has absolutely zero interest in any of those brands.
I didn’t buy a lot of things in the end mainly because even at the outlet price, everything is still pricey. We saw 2 mandarin speaking girls dragging 2 handful of big shopping bags and a middle aged caucasian couple buying a pile of clothes in Loro Piana (most cashmere top after discount still cost you around €300). It really depends how much you are willing to spend on luxury brands; whilst Mr Map was discussing my illogical economic theory of spending money to save money.
We left the outlet in the early afternoon and took the bus back to Florence. We spent the afternoon walking around Florence and tried to do some souvenir shopping.
We stopped at I due fratellini for their famous sandwich. It is a popular joint and a lot of people order a glass of wine with it. There is no seating area and people were just standing near the shop to eat and drink.
The bread was very cripsy. It was a good deal as all the sandwiches cost about €2.5
I due fratellini
Opening hours: Mon to Sun – 09:00-20:00
Address: Via dei Cimatori, 38R, Florence
We walked around the city for a while and found ourselves ready for dinner. We walked pass a restaurant called Trattoria Marione few days ago and there were people queuing up to get in. In Hong Kong, if there is a restaurant with long queue, it cannot be bad. With this theory, we decided to have our last meal in Florence here.
Once we got in, we realized most of the customers were tourists. Most people made their order in English. We felt like we were in the wrong place already.
I ordered the ravioli with tomato sauce which seems to be a safe choice. It turns out the sauce was more sour than lemon juice! You may think I am exaggerating, but it was horrendous, I had to wash it down with plenty of water. I should have poured my water to wash the ravioli before eating them!
Mr Map was more adventurous with the food selection. He chose one of the specialties in Florence – Trippa alla fiorentina (tripe cooked in a rich tomato sauce). I refused to try this dish as I could smell the offal like smell and it made me a little queazy already, eating it would not have gone down well. We have similar dishes of offal in Hong Kong, both at restaurants at yum cha and also street stores. I watched Mr Map struggle, as whilst he usually likes a couple of pieces, to eat a whole dish of it was too much even for him. Think he regretted not getting a smaller portion in a food truck that we had passed whilst roaming around souvenir shopping.
It was probably our worst dining experience in Florence. Despite our negative experience, I found many positive comments from tripadvisor or yelp. I am not sure if people were being nice or we just ordered the wrong food. My advise is you can try your luck with this restaurant but don’t order the 2 dishes that we ordered. Good luck!
Opening hours: Mon to Sun – 12:00-23:00
Address: Via della Spada 27R, Florence
It was sad to leave Florence and Tuscany after spending 5 nights here. Florence is definintely my favourite city in Italy. Unlike Rome and Milan, it is less hectic and seems to be more cultured, the historical architecture from the renaissance period just make it more relaxing and enjoyable as you make your way through the narrow streets. Needless to say the food and wine in Florence is amazing, and the quaint medieval towns around the area just make it more fascinating. I would highly recommend Florence and Tuscany to anyone travelling to Italy.
Next stop – Venice!
Have you ever been to Florence and Tuscany? What is your favourite and least favourite restaurant?