Keep in mind when visiting Florence, that you are in a timeless city with centuries-old tradition of artisan crafts, with many maestri (masters) in each of their specific trade-crafts. Many still work with traditional tools and methods, while others have modernized their techniques to suit the increase in demand from the tourist trade. This is a double edged sword. On one had, it is still possible to find the best traditional leathers, jewelry, linens and more. On the other hand, the casual Voyager to Florence has to be wary of shoddy materials, careless workmanship, outright fakes and forgeries and cheap factory-made imports from China.
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...