The Florence Chamber of Commerce makes some good suggestions as to what and where to buy handmade items or artisan products in the city.
The list includes gold and silver, paper and bookbinding, mosaics, brass and bronzes, leather goods, linen embroidery, upholstery and terracotta.
Visitors are invited to shop in the traditional small 'botteghe' or workshops where the products are both made and sold. The streets and corners not to miss are named as the following: Ponte Vecchio, Por Santa Maria, via Maggio, Borgo Ognissanti, via dei Fossi, San Frediano and via Tornabuoni.
According to the official figures there are approximately 6.000 artisans still working in the historical center who keep the tradition of ancient trades alive which saw their origins about one thousand years ago.
6,000 may seem a lot but in 1336, 30,000 were employed, by far the majority dedicated to the manufacture of wool and silk cloth which was 25% of the whole population of Florence.
They eventually became organised into trades called 'Arti Maggiori' and 'Arti Minori'. Each had its own office, a street with its own bottega and its own tribunal in order to settle commercial disputes.
In the 16th century, Florence boasted 88 botteghe for the manufacture of silk clothes which were exported all over Europe.
From 1738 to Italian Unity, when Tuscany was governed by the Lorena of Austria, the craft industry of Florence perhaps reached its full splendour. Under the influence of the Grand Dukes, the Georgofili Academy was founded to stimulate the application of the new scientific knowledge.
Ginori started to gain a reputation for chinaware while the leather and bookbinding workshops moved to Santa Croce sull'Arno to make it one the main productive areas in Europe.
The zone of Prato started to specialize in textiles sector while Signa excelled in the production of straw hats.
Head to Florence for the annual International Handicrfats Trade Fair every April.