Most women would love to buy a Florentine made handbag--if they can afford it. The upscale shops are the safest--and most expensive--option to ensure you're getting high quality leather-goods made in Florence. The street vendors have many handbags imported from China--junk for the tourists made from vinyl. If you want to find a bargain from a street vendor, give the bag (or its strap) a bend and smell it. Leather has an unmistakable scent. Be careful of "bonded leather", which is ground up leather, textured and glued to a fabric base. You can also bring along a BIC lighter and ask the vendor to allow you to do a "flash test"--quickly passing a flame across leather won't hurt it, but vinyl will give off a chemical smell.
I know my boy, Lucas would love to do this if we get back to Florence--making marbled papers. There are stationers who specialize in the making of marbleized papers right in their shops. Some offer demonstrations and will even let you make your own.
Italy has produced some of the most beautiful and desirable fountain and calligraphy pens in the world. In Florence you'll find small shops that might have that perfect pen, fit for your hands to pen your love letters, notes from your Voyage or your next novel.
A great way to start your search is to take a stroll through medieval streets of the Oltrarno (“other side of the Arno”) neighborhood, in between Via Maggio and Piazza Pitti. Walk past the vendors on the Ponte Vecchio to the south bank of the Arno and then a bit west. You will sense that you really stepped back in time into the Renaissance discover a literal maze of artisan workshops in the tiny streets--violin makers, bookbinders, gilders, ceramics, tilemakers, mosaics, calligraphers, clock makers,metal-workers, framers and sculptors. Just remember not to go during riposa, when most Italians close up their shops for 203 hours between 2-3 pm. Early morning or later in the afternoon is best. There are also many little piazza with trattoria to enjoy, sit back and just take it all in...