Have you ever packed something away and forgotten about it, only to find it years later? Several years ago, I was clearing out some old boxes and found a cream leather blazer, a red leather jacket, and a leather laptop bag I purchased while studying abroad. It was clear that I went on a bit of a shopping spree at the San Lorenzo Market (which wasn’t too difficult to do!)
This market is a bargain leather goods and souvenir shopper’s dream every week from Monday through Saturday. Whether you’re looking for something for yourself or a gift for someone else, you won’t be at a loss for ideas as you walk through this open-air street market. While there is no shortage here of magnets, keychains, postcards, and t-shirts, you’ll mostly find vendors selling any and every leather good you could imagine, as well as other textiles, accessories, home décor, and so much more.
Before making your list of items to purchase, bear in mind – each region of Italy has its traditional arts and crafts. As much as I adore the San Lorenzo market for its great deals and convenience, I suggest holding off purchasing certain items listed below until you’ve visited the regions they are more well-known for. In those regions, you’ll likely find a wider selection and better quality of these items at more favorable prices.
- hand-painted dishes;
- handblown glassware;
- Venetian carnival masks;
- handwoven lace
Amidst the random police sirens blaring from several blocks away, utensils clanking against plates at nearby restaurants, and conversations from people shopping or dining at the Mercato Centrale, are invitations from the open-air market vendors competing for a sale. During my visits, echoes of “for you, my friend; come take a look; Whitney, Whitney Houston, we love you; and Black beauty” filled the air. I must admit their attempts were amusing at best, and while unsuccessful in capturing my attention, I really couldn’t fault them for trying.
Over the years, the market has scaled down quite a bit, but there’s still plenty of opportunities for you to snag a good deal, even when the vendor doesn’t seem hard pressed to make a sale.
Here are five KEY tips to help you get the best deals as you navigate through the San Lorenzo Market:
- Don’t buy from the first vendor you see – take some time to walk around the market to scout out the best prices and deals.
- If you’re purchasing more than one item from a vendor, definitely use that to your advantage to negotiate a bundle deal.
- A lot of items are marked up anyway, so be firm on your offer. The worse that could happen is they say no, but chances are other vendors are selling similar items, if not the same thing, who WILL be willing to accept your offer.
- You may be able to negotiate more favorable prices with vendors toward the end of the day – they want to make that last sale before the market closes!
- Don’t hesitate to describe what you’re looking for – many of the vendors speak English and have small warehouses located down a side street or directly behind their stall where you’ll find more options for the specific things you’re looking for.
While it’s easy to leave the open-air market with your hands full, if you keep these five tips in mind, you’ll also be sure to leave without burning a hole in your pocket.