Spring is here and time to change the wardrobe and perhaps use the excuse to go shopping at The Mall, Florence one of the most popular designer outlets. Oddly enough it’s only 5mins from where I live yet I rarely go unless my overseas visitors are curious. It’s perhaps the only time many of the shoppers ever get to see the beauty of the Tuscan countryside. With around 3 million visitors each year it is not surprising that The Mall has continued to
expand despite the economic crisis. The little local village of Leccio has incorporated the rather trendy architectural shopping blocks, though most shoppers rarely get out of The Mall precinct, since it has more than one restaurant and café area and the bus services and many private NCC taxi drivers take customers to the door.
These days the major clientele are Asian – Chinese, Korean and Japanese who come in droves, often in their own Tour coaches.
It has been a boom for the area however giving a lot of new work opportunities both inside the outlets as well as in the new constructions and surrounding landscaped gardens in need of constant maintenance. Regular bus services and additional taxi services are also a benefit to locals. And besides when it gets gruellingly hot in Summer we can all escape there into the air conditioning!
Other outlet areas have opened close by – the Fashion Groove home to Geox shoes, Timberland, Calzedonia and others, Dolce and Gabbana at Primo Piano and the Fashion Valley.
But it has not all been a rosy picture as the closure of Fashion Valley can testify. Murky green ponds, dirty statues heighten the dismal effect of closed shop windows now in the Fashion Valley. The only place still open is the Asian restaurant – La Fenice which obviously has a special deal going as Coaches bus groups there daily for lunch.
Still a visit to The Mall is worthwhile, even without buying, as the ‘idyllic Tuscan countryside’ as described in the brochure is very relaxing on the eyes from the rooftop restaurant of Gucci. And I must admit even I succumbed to a bargain in the Nike Outlet, after all how could I go past new gym shoes for only €29.50!!
Little do visitors know that they are just below the beautiful Castle Sammezzano which we hope will one day be open to the public to visit.