A Very Special Florentine Souvenir

Want to know a secret? I was actually thinking to write this article in the fall, and started writing one but scrapped it because I thought the time frame had passed. The past few days of writing, I obviously said “to heck with that”, and now here we are. This post is all about my gorgeous souvenir I brought back from my summer in Italy, and I am so excited to share this story and these photos!!

Okay now it’s story time: as my dreamy-Florentine summer was coming to its inevitable end, and in conjunction with my birthday on September 1st, I was thinking to buy myself something extra-special to mark my time and experience. I wanted it to be something authentically Florentine that I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else, but what this super-specific mystery item was though, I had not decided. Shoes? Possibly, but I wasn’t very excited about it. Jewelry? With Florence’s rich history of jewelers (hello Ponte Vecchio) I considered it, but most of my everyday accessories are just for fun, and since my father is a jeweler (who always presents me with something lovely each holiday), I was also not too pulled in that direction. A purse maybe? Perhaps with Florence’s also rich history and speciality of leather, but I have so many already. The only thing I did know, was that I would know it when I saw it.

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In August, My Italian school was right near the Basilica Santa Croce and its adjoining piazza, where some of the most famous and historical leather shops happen to be located. One morning before class, I was on my way to get a cappuccino when I walked by the leather shop that was directly across the street from my school, and saw an absolutely gorgeous snake skin bag in the window in a black and white color way. I really liked the look and the shape (it’s modeled after the Chanel Classic Flap, a style I already love), but seeing the material I had a hunch it would be a very pricey. I went in and met the lovely shop owner, and asked her in Italian, sono solo curioso, però quante costa per la borsa della pelle di serpinte nella finesta? (I am only curious, but how much is the snake skin bag in the window?). She replied that it was a few hundred euros, and while that is without a doubt a hefty price, I was actually a little surprised that it wasn’t more for being a genuine snake skin. If that bag were sold in the US, it would be so much more, and if it had a luxury logo … forget it, we’d be in the tens of thousands of dollars in the blink of an eye. I liked it a lot, but wasn’t rapturously in love with it like I wanted this purchase to be.

I asked if she had it in a smaller size, she said “no, but I have it in another color”. She went into the back and a minute later brought out the same style in a tan color way, and my jaw instantly dropped. In that moment I don’t think I had ever seen a more gorgeous purse in my whole life. I instantly started imagining looks I could pair this with in the upcoming seasons. It wasn’t a want, I needed this purse. This was the feeling I wanted to have when I found that perfect, special, and undeniably unique item to take home when my summer was finished. I was completely inamorata.

BUT I did not make the purchase that day. I took a picture of it, and went home to think it over. I was so in love with it, but I had my mother’s voice in my head reminding me to not make an impulsive splurge. I had a few more weeks in Florence at that point, so I knew I had time to contemplate and look around. I went to what seemed like a countless amount of leather stores all around the city doing my research on looks, colors, and materials. As I looked, I didn’t see that shape anywhere else, the options for that tan color were few and far between, and if the bags were in snake skin, the prices were a lot higher than the original bag. I learned a great piece of advice from my mom a while ago, that sometimes we make purchases emotionally. Leaving Florence was so hard for me – I was in my dream city, being surrounded by what fuels my soul, I made lots of lovely friends, and was in a steady routine – so this was totally an emotional purchase, combined with it being a birthday gift for myself.

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Trying on the bag at the shop in August
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Capturing the details

During my last week in Florence, the first week in September, I went in with my friend and made my purchase. The same woman that I originally met was there, and she gave me a generous discount because I payed cash, and as she said, we were amiche. I have worn this bag so many times this fall, and have teased it on my Instagram stories several times. When I am not wearing it (which is the majority of the time), it stays stuffed in its dust cover on a shelf in my bedroom. I have conditioned it once so far to keep the skin soft to prolong its longevity – I found out that reptile skin is very fragile and dries out easily. I am so meticulous with taking the best care of my possessions that I can, and even more so with those special investment pieces.

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There is a phrase that goes something like “you’ll never love an item more than when you see it in the store”, BUT this bag is the total exception to that phrase. I get so happy and excited every time I bring it out of its dust bag to pair it with whatever look I get inspired to create. It is a total classic, but also super on-trend with the animal print craze all over the fashion industry, and has really shaped the colors and styles of my fall and winter style. I am so glad I made this purchase, and can’t wait to keep wearing it as the years go on!

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