Infused in medieval times, Florence sparks magic at every angle. The fortunate ones that season after season attend the Pitti Uomo trade show, have the chance to live the city in a very special way. They are not tourists, nor residents but longtime habitués who have the perfect combination of curiousness and familiarity with the place, enabling them to ferret out the city treasures and establish their own circuit of preferences.
Here is a dive into the Florentine favorites of the Pitti Uomo vendors.
There’s a hefty consensus between the industry insiders: LuisaViaRoma, which this year celebrates its 90th anniversary, is the place to go for shopping and inspiration. Then there are some key categories when talking about Florence’s specialties and classics: perfumes and essences, antiquities, great walks around the city, and good-quality, typical Tuscan cuisine.
Luigi Lardini, creative director of the family-owned Lardini fashion house, considers Florence as a place to chill. Long walks passing through Ponte Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria to arrive to the Duomo rank among his favorites things to do. Florence’s beautiful architecture inspired Lardini to the extent of re-creating the intricate ceiling path of Galleria Vasariana in his own private apartment in the historical center of the city.
Furthermore, Lardini agrees that Florence is one of the best places for food — whether in a small familiar tavern or a famous restaurant. Among his favorites, Coco Lezzone, where you can relish a real Florentine beef steak in a relaxed, informal and truly characteristic venue.
Both Masha Brigatti and Simone Guidarelli, creative directors of the Parcoats Florence, have their own preferences in the city. For Brigatti, the first and most important thing to do when attending the Pitti fair is looking for the perfect accommodation. Two are her favorite places to stay, Grand Hotel Baglioni, because of its strategic location and amiable bar atmosphere perfect for business meetings, and Casa Howard, a finely furnished guest house, full of special pieces collected by its owner over the years.
If Pitti’s chockablock schedule allows it, the designer loves to visit Piazzale Michelangelo for a panoramic view of the city, or her favorite church, the Romanesque San Miniato al Monte Abbey. And finally, to complete the day with some shopping, Brigatti prefers to head to the Lorenzo Villoresi atelier in search of a complete sensory experience immersing herself into an atmosphere filled with the most refined perfumes, essences and candles.
Simone Guidarelli agrees that LuisaViaRoma is a must in terms of shopping and inspiration, but he also shares other very specific preferences, for example Quercioli & Lucherini Firenze to buy socks.
As the night starts to fall after a busy fair day, Guidarelli prefers Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco for dinner, and then to the Gallery Art Hotel for a sophisticated cocktail at The Fusion Bar and Restaurant.
Lorenzo Boglione, vice president of sales at Basic Net, the group which owns Kappa, K-Way and Superga among others, loves to support old-time friends so when it comes to shopping he chooses Sociétè Anonyme, a store infused in an underground atmosphere, where internationally renowned brands coexist with niche and researched ones. Sotf, known for its cool sneakers, is also a must for Boglione, as is the Officina del Profumo — Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. One of the oldest pharmacies in the world, with more than 400 years of uninterrupted business, it is known for the use of medicinal herbs grown in the monastic gardens to make medications, balms, pomades and fragrances.
For dinner, Boglione could easily bump into Lardini, since Coco Lezzone is also one of his favorite restaurants, along with Osteria Cipolla Rossa.
Bruno Bordese, footwear designer of the namesake brand, finds Pitti Uomo the perfect excuse to visit a city that manages to amaze him every time, especially in the summer season.
For Bordese, despite the busy and fast-paced workdays, the perfect way to start is with a tasty breakfast at Caffè Gilli or Rivoire, two historical confectionery shops, and finishes with a relaxed aperitif at Amblè or I Fratellini, then heading for dinner at a traditional Florentine restaurant, such as La Buca dell’Orafo, famous for being the Ponte Vecchio´s goldsmiths´ meeting point.
Undoubtedly, one of the privileges of those who attend Pitti Uomo is to be able to see many places usually not accessible to the public, which are opened for the occasion. Among them, Bordese singled out Palazzo Strozzi and Strozzina, Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Corsini, Palazzo Ricasoli, the Torrigiani greenhouses and the newly renovated Pecci museum in Prato, about 40 minutes from Florence.
Footwear designer Pierre-Louis Mascia has a precise guide to navigate the hectic waters of Florence during the days of the fair.
His first suggestion is the in-depth reading of the book “Je cherche l’Italie” by his favorite writer Yannick Haenel. The book tells of a personal journey of the writer from Paris with his Florentine girlfriend, who takes him on a trip to discover Florence. Following the writer’s footsteps through the novel, every day a new painting can be discovered in one of the Florentine museums.
Mascia loves to dig up design treasures and move away from the mainstream shopping circuit, choosing places such as Aprosio & Co., a creative jewelry and accessories atelier; Albrici, an antiques laboratory and reference point for research on vintage clothing in Florence, and Luca, an antiques laboratory and painting studio.
Michael Azoulay, founder of American Vintage, finds the time to visit his best-loved museums and cultural sites such as the Bardini Museum; the old-time famous Galleria degli Uffizi; the Bargello national museum; Palazzo Pitti, the San Miniato al Monte Abbey; the Santa Croce basilica, and the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore. He also loves to visit some art galleries such as Farsetti and Bacarelli.
For shopping, one of Azoulay’s favorites is the Flow Store, a place where luxury and vintage are combined for a unique range of product.