Where to Buy the BEST Italian Leather Handbags in Florence, Italy

Stunning craftsmenship

Pelletteria Moretti
Pelletteria Moretti

Hey everyone!

Wow! My friend Trish and I just came home from a whirlwind tour of several cities in Italy. Each one has its particular charm but Florence leaves me breathless every time.

Anyone who has been to Florence or who has an obsession for quality purses and handbags knows that Florentine leather products are world renown for their quality and  craftsmanship.

The reason for this is that the craftsmen who create these dreamy products have all been well trained and apprenticed and, many times, has family who have done this type of work for a long time.

Walter Moretti at Pelletteria Moretti in Florence is no exception.

Handbag Heaven
Handbag Heaven

When I first launched my website, Chasing La Bella Vita, I wanted to sell quality leather handbags online. I had come over to Florence to scout out a supplier so that I could get super high quality products for a good price.

Pelletteria Moretti
Pelletteria Moretti

I had been all over Florence on a bike and had talked to many people in the various shops. None of them were at all interested.

All colors
All colors

I was about to give up when I happened to ride by Signore Moretti’s shop just as he was going outside to get some air. He was wearing a leather apron which halted me in my tracks. It was a good sign.

All styles
All styles

I went in and and started looking around. The first thing I noticed was that the designs in this shop were different than the cookie cutter cutout designs I had seen in all the other shops. It was like they had all stuck to the same design for years. In fact, when I go back to Florence and see the stalls on the street or the shops near the monuments, I see the same designs I saw when I first visited Florence many years ago.

Bow bag
Bow Bag. I love it!

The second thing I noticed was the palpable quality of the leather that Signore Moretti uses. You could tell just by touching it that Signore Moretti used super high quality leather for his designs.

Classic shoulder bag
Classic shoulder bag

After having looked and liking what I saw, I asked Signore Moretti about selling his bags online. At that point he sat me down and gave me a whole lesson on how to find great quality in handbags.

He went over each handbag point by point and explained the work and the attention to detail that went into crafting such a beautiful work of art.

Top shelf
Top shelf

He then would not sell me any handbags until I promised to go out and about and really look at the handbags I found in the other shops and the stalls.

After my primer on handbags, I did not even have to look closely to see the obvious differences in quality.

Triangle shoulder bags
Triangle shoulder bags

Signore Moretti advised me that many of the products you find on the street in Florence are mass produced and the quality can be very poor. I observed this for myself by looking them over and finding blemishes and cuts in the leather that would never be found in a Moretti bag.

I came back to his shop and purchase a bunch of handbags to take home and sell.

In the end, I decided against selling the handbags on Chasing La Bella Vita and many of them became gifts for people in my life. Everyone I have ever given one of these bags to has been overjoyed to get it and have ended up loving it for years.

And of course, I kept a lot of them. I mean how can you give the best ones away?

I have one of his adorable little round bags with a bow on it in gray. It goes beautifully with a black dress and breaks up the too much blackness problem with a slight change in color. Very classy!

Jewel box bags
Jewel box bags

I also have one of his little jewel box bags with the toggle on the front. Mine is in red and black and is perfect for evenings out. Again, it pairs beautifully with black dresses of which I own many.

This time, I did buy gifts for friends and family members. And of course I bought gifts for myself because why would I not?

Fine quality
Fine quality

I got a beautiful perfectly crafted square bag in bright orange and a gorgeous purse in teal with stunning details.

I just can’t help myself! I love his bags so much that I am like a kid in a candy store.  Even with my giant suitcase full, I was thinking about the little bright green bag with the bow on it and trying to figure out how I could squeeze another trip to Moretti’s before my train left. Obsessive? absolutely!

Stunning craftsmenship
Stunning craftsmanship

Confession time! My friend and I had to purchase a huge wheelie suitcase we named Big Red just for all the gifts to ourselves and others we brought home. Happily she was booked into first class and was able to check Big Red for free. Big Red is now available for future trips to Florence and this is a good thing.

Gorgeous
Gorgeous

When you go to Florence, do yourself a favor and go see Walter Moretti and his wonderful family. They are lovely people and you will be dazzled by his works of art. And his prices are really super reasonable considering the passion, attention to detail and quality that goes into every handbag.

Oh and buy yourself a Big Red, you are going to need it.

Happy shopping!

 

Ruin Flippers! From Medieval to MAGNIFICENT!

The ruined palace
The road to ruin; Santa Domenica Talao
Road leading to the palace

 

Hi Everyone!

I have been in Santa Domenica Talao all week and if you have been following me on Facebook and Youtube, you know I have been up to some really fun and cool things and I am designating a portion of this blog  “Ruin Flippers”.

To start off with, I have been working with our village architect and contractor on renovations for the house my husband and I purchased in 2011.

When we bought our place here in Santa Domenica, it was a good sized apartment but we needed more bedrooms. So we purchased the ruin that is attached to our place with the idea that one day we would fix it up.

Initially we were thinking of making the ruin into a separate apartment but then we decided that it would be much more practical if we opened up the wall between our living room and the ruin and expanded our current living space.

This gives us an open plan living area and a new kitchen while freeing up the existing kitchen to be a good sized bedroom. Ultimately we will have two more bedrooms, another bathroom and another  balcony with sweeping views of the sea.

Soooo I met with Antonello the architect and one thing led to another. In the end we are getting a roof terrace as well and another storage and laundry room up top.

For a better picture of how this will roll out, please see my Youtube video as I walk you through the house and explain the changes.

Ruined Palace Santa Domenica Talao, Calabria, Italy
The ruined palace

Knowing that we are renovating our house, Antonello, the village architect and incredibly smart historian insisted that I see the inside of the massive ruined palace that sits at the top of the village overlooking what used to be the original piazza.

Our village is actually upside down from what it used to be. The old piazza used to be at the top back of the village and overlooked the mountains. The newer one is in the front and overlooks the Mediterranean.

Ruin Flipper Santa Domenica Talao, Calabria, Italy
The courtyard entrance. The stables are on your right

In its heyday, the ruined palace overlooked the piazza and the little alleyway that ran down from the upper piazza to the church. The alleyway was filled with shops and stalls all the way down and as you walk down from the top today following it, you can see how it might have looked.

The front door of this ruin is actually located on the opposite side from the road leading up to it and half way down a little alleyway.

The palace is a block long, multiple levels and God knows how many square meters.

Antonello took us in through the locked door that opened onto a small courtyard. On your right were the old stables (The stables were placed under the residences so that the body heat from the animals rose and helped keep the upper floors warm in Winter. One can imagine that the smell also rose with it which gives you a slightly unwelcome glimpse into what life there might have been like back then)

Ruin Flipper, Santa Domenica Talao, Calabria, Italy
The entry way with the beautiful terrazzo floors.

Going up the from steps, the front door opened into a large entryway with a huge hallway/living space beyond it. And as you walk in, you step back in time to the late 1890’s when this palace was in its original grandeur.

For now, the beautiful terrazzo floors are covered with dust. The original furniture remains along with the teapots and dishes.

Ruin Flipper Santa Domenica Talao, Calabria, Italy
Midcentury sofa in a medieval ruin

A sofa that was new in the 1950;s looks oddly out of place next to the walls that have been standing since the medieval period.

As you walk through the grand hall to the front of the house, you enter a huge drawing room big enough to be a ball room.

Ruin Flipper, Santa Domenica Talao, Calabria, Italy
A little TLC and she could be as grand as she once was.
Ruin Flipper. SantaDomenica, Talao, Calabria, Italy
Soggiorno

In front are two large balconies overlooking what used to the the main piazza and the center point of the village.

The walls are covered with bright red wallpaper which, upon close inspection of the newspaper backing it, reveals a date of 1960’s when the wall paper was added to dress up the space.

The floors however were the most beautiful part of this huge room. Again covered with decades of dust, the tile floor is a complex pattern of painted tiled put together to look like a fine carpet.

Ruin Flipper, Santa Domenica Talao,Calabria, Italy
Dishes and furniture, untouched

Although the floor is covered with dust, you can look at the walls, the furniture left in the other rooms, the chandelier that has been promised to the church in the new piazza, and see exactly what this room once looked like. It was grand and beautiful.

As Antonello took us on a walking tour through the house he pointed out pictures on the wall.

Ruin Flipper Santa Domenica Talao Calabria Italy
A snapshot in time

One picture was a daughter of the owner. Antonello told us her sad history and her photo shows a sadness that is frozen in time here on a wall in the corner of the hallway.

Ruin Flipper, Santa Domenica Tavola, Calabria, Italy
Old kitchen
Ruin Flipper, San ta Domenica Talao, Calabria, Italy
Kitchen

As we made our way through, more photos were revealed, again frozen in time and miraculously still attached to the walls waiting for someone to collect them.

According to Antonello, the owners of the house want to sell it and sell it for cheap. They understand the amount of work it would take to repair and restore this beauty and it is a labor of love that Antonello showed it to me in the hopes that I might help him find the perfect someone who wants to restore a beautiful place in the a perfect little hill town in Santa Domenica Talao, Italy and live there.

Ruin Flipper, Santa Domenica Talao, Calabria, Italy
View from window

This place would make a stunningly beautiful home for someone who wants to live in a place where life is piano, piano, love and community are still important and where food, art, architecture and beauty reign supreme.

If you are that special person, please contact me. The asking price is peanuts and I know the local builder. Antonello would love to set his considerable talents to work redesigning the spaces so that they work for a modern lifestyle.

Ruin Flippers, Santa Domenica Talao, Calabria, Italy
Old treasures

In the end you could own a palace that takes up an entire block at the top of a stunningly beautiful village in Calabria for less than you would pay for a crappy condo in San Jose, California.

And if you want to join the ranks of Ruin Flippers, you could live here in Santa Domenica Talao, in the most beautiful village in the world.

For detailed video descriptions of the village and the ruin click here and here.

Santa_Domenica_Talao
Santa Domenica Talao

If you are interested in purchasing any property (And there are many) I am offering a consulting package. Your flight, your accommodations, your train tickets, your rental car, your real estate agents and tours and translation in Calabria with architects, builders and legal counsel will be included.  I will personally show you around and arrange everything. Most of the amazing properties I have seen recently in our village are not on the Italian multiple listing service

If ruins do not appeal to you, there are renovated properties available that are so cheap you could almost put them on a credit card. .

They are very affordable and have magnificent views of mountains or the sea. It is a buyer’a market right now so a great time to buy.

For advice on moving to Italy, please check out my interview with Bonnie Gale Oliver. She gives you a glimpse of life in the village and valuable advice on how to make the move.

And stay tuned for detailed pictures and videos of our own renovation projects. We are renovating our house and eyeing a property that would make fabulous BNB. We are ironing out the details right now but we will soon be in full swing.

See you there!

XO Chris

PS for more photos and reasons to chuck your life and move to Italy, check out my blog post on why Calabria is such a great retirement destination.