Buying Leather coats / bags, etc. in Italy

We are going on our first Tauck Tour - end of September - Italian Lakes, Venice, Florence, Rome. We had dinner last night with friends who have been on about a dozen wonderful Tauck Tours. One of the subjects that came up at dinner was going to A. J. Leather Factory in Florence or wonderful leather jackets, etc.
This morning I searched the web to find out more - address, etc. I found some wonderful reviews and some very discouraging reviews.
One of the reviews on Tripadvisor mentioned they went there based on a recommendation of their Tauck Tour Director and they were not happy. Several other reviews on different websites talked about credit card fraud after visiting A. J. Leathers.

Just wondering any other Tauck guests have troubles or if Tauck advisers have other information on A.J.'s or other leather stores in Florence?

Thanks - Roy

Comments

  • edited August 2015
    The Tauck tour director must have been 'pressed' into recommending the leather factory because they are not supposed to recommend any shopping in any formal way. You at not going to find any bargain leather in Italy unless you have big money to spend and don't care even though the Euro is more favorable than late. I once stopped to look at some of those cheap pashmina in Florence and then found myself looking at leather jackets nearby, the guy started to take me down a dark alley and my husband had to grab me and pull me to my senses before something bad happened, it was a while ago when I was young and foolish. When it comes to Italy it is best to just go for the food and scenery. Last time I was there I bought a very expensive piece of pottery, a pitcher, or the Brits called that a jug. We were into the first days of the Tauck Florence Tuscany and Umbria tour, wonderful but Tauck no longer do that tour, shame! We were in San Giamongiano the village with all the towers. it would have cost a fortune to ship home when I enquired, so I safely carried it around the rest of the trip and it now has pride of place in my Tuscan inspired bathroom decor. The other bits of pottery I bought could all be seen, exactly the same in my local Homegoods but much cheaper, say no more! If anyone else can tell me I am wrong, please do because I am off to Italy again next month and if I have the five minutes to shop that Tauck or Mr British allows me to have on vacation, I'll be sure to look for the recommended bargains. This is where I now also mention olive oil, according to our Tauck New Zealnd olive oil tasting, Italian imported oil is not the best, the whole industry there is run by the mafia and one of the best oils you can buy is from good old California!
  • In his guidebooks, Rick Steves offers some tips for buying leather and locations in Florence (I'm sure you can borrow his "Italy" or "Florence & Tuscany" guidebooks from you local library). Really cheap leather products, like those sold in street markets, probably came from China and are just as cheap here (and the quality is just as dodgy). The luxury brands will probably be just as expensive in Italy or more so. Rick does suggest some mid-price options. I wouldn't look for any real bargains, just something special to remember your trip by. If you spend more than 155 euros be sure to get a VAT refund. If you spend less the VAT tax will probably mean you're paying more than you would in the US.
  • Thanks to Ken for more clarification. Just a note to say the following
    not sure about Rick Steves books but most travel guides can be read on line, I usually read Fodors or Frommers and buy if necessary. Recently using or buying the 'Ten Best whatever's in Wherever' books. They may be published by DK . Library guides can become out of date quite quickly if there are new attractions developed in places, like a new museum opening or things like that.
  • Thanks for your replies, our first trip to Italy - checking into everything
  • British wrote:
    Just a note to say the following
    not sure about Rick Steves books but most travel guides can be read on line, I usually read Fodors or Frommers and buy if necessary. Recently using or buying the 'Ten Best whatever's in Wherever' books. They may be published by DK .

    British-

    I like the DK guides, too. The illustrations are great. Rick is different from other travel guides in that he isn't afraid to share his opinion - in detail. He's a good source for dining, shopping and figuring out which sights are tourist traps and which are worth the time. His website has a lot of good information, but no where near the detail of the books. After reading all the guides (Fromers, Fordor, Lonely Planet, Eyewitness (DK) and Rick Steves) I've settled on the Eyewitness and Rick Steves books as the best sources. Fortunately our library keeps both up to date.

    Ken
  • I'm a Rick Steves fan too. (Not that I'd ever take one of his tours since I can't see toting my own luggage around as much as they seem to do.) But his web site, videos and guides are excellent sources. We used his Paris pocket guide last year and I have the Amsterdam one for this. Small, easy to carry with a nice foldout map.

    Also like Dk for the wonderful pictures, maps, historical background, etc but they are heavy.
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