thrifting & antiquing in Tuscany

Marian ParsonsAntiques, Travel22 Comments

This was the day I was waiting for…the day of shopping and antiquing in Italy.  I found so many fun things last year and enjoyed the day admiring the abundance of European antiques.  It was a little slice of heaven…well, except for the heat!  It was so hot last year!  Thankfully, it was a little cooler this year.

Unlike the US where markets start early, the antique market in Lucca isn’t at full swing until about 11:00 am, so we didn’t leave our hotel until about 9:00 am to give ourselves time to hit Dana’s favorite thrift store prior to going to the flea market.  It’s a small shop called Ti Riruso Mercantino about 15-20 minutes outside of Barga.  Or group shopped there last year and we were all frenzied over the chandeliers, textiles, and other vintage and antique finds loosely grouped on thrift store shelves.

This year, I knew what to expect, so I didn’t feel that same nervous energy.  If I found something, great.  If I didn’t, that was okay, too.  I ended up not buying anything, but I admired the furniture and other things that were too large to take home.

I also admired the things other members of our party found…  sconces, copper, a pasta drying rack, and vintage Rayban sunglasses, to name a few.

There were things I was tempted to purchase like linens and ironstone bowls, but I already have plenty of those and wanted to save my money and space in my suitcase for other potential finds

Once everyone in our group checked out, we headed over to the walled city of Lucca.

Because cars are limited inside the wall, our bus had to drop us at one of the entrances.

Lucca is a charming Tuscan city with narrow streets filled with all manner of shops and on the 3rd Saturday of the month (during the tourist season), an antique market takes over the alleys and piazzas.

Last year, I had a very specific list of things I was looking for.  This year, I had a few things in mind.  The three main things I hoped to find were an ink well, a desk-top artist easel (I saw one last year and didn’t buy it and it’s haunted me), and another copper mould.

Since there were several people in our group who mentioned that copper was on their list, I felt a bit of urgency to find the “copper guy” I bought from last year.  No luck on the specific 1800’s Parisian moulds I was looking for, though.

This year, we had the added mission to shop for two winners of The Inspired Tourist giveaway!  I enjoyed hunting and pecking for others in addition to looking for things I wanted.  I’ll share everything I bought in another post, but I found this great pair of scissors for one of the winners…

I almost bought this ironstone pitcher (middle), but I was concerned about getting it home safely…

I was also tempted by the cafe au lait bowls, but decided against those, too.

There were just so many beautiful things at every turn that you had to pace yourself and stay focused!

I thought this old family tree was a pretty awesome piece!

…and I loved this Italian version of a Big Ben alarm clock.  They look almost identical.

One booth I was particularly drawn to was filled with antique and vintage leather goods.  The leathers were all beautifully worn and I spent a long time admiring the bags and cases until a pair of leather oxford shoes caught my eye.

They looked just about my size.  I asked the vendor if it was okay for me to try them on.  He not only agreed but surrendered his chair for me to sit in and then led me over to a mirror to see how they looked.  They were perfect!!

I was planning to buy some leather in Lucca, but I didn’t know I would have the luck to find an Italian-made vintage pair!  Here is the card for the vendor I bought them from…

Once the antiquing was done, we ate a late lunch and walked back to the leather store to pick up the pieces we bought and had monogrammed on the way in.  I’ll share more about the leather shop, the antiques I purchased, and about a delicious green coat I bought on impulse in one of the shops in another post…

thrifting & antiquing in Tuscany

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22 Comments on “thrifting & antiquing in Tuscany”

  1. So much to look at! I cannot and do not need anything large, furniture, mirrors, frames and china pieces any more.
    Same with old linen, although I still touch them, want them, love them, but enough is enough, so what I buy
    is right on top of the reddish, pink velvet cloth that you photographed so well: metal things, broken or not..I make jewelry with some of them, but I also lay them artfully on a table and admire the tiny details until they get recycled into something. Your photo made me drool; happy to see that your good eye spotted them too. In France they may cost as little as one Euro or a bit more in village flea markets, they fit in my pocket and are unbreakable.

  2. Ohhhh thank you for sharing for this lovely albeit bittersweet trip.
    I lived in Italy back in the late 70’s and I haven’t been back since.
    Grazie!

  3. Oh my!! I went to London many years ago on an antiquing venture with a small group of gals. I took an empty suitcase to bring my treasures home in. And one of th things the gals did was bring very few changes of clothes… different sweaters and the same pair of jeans… and we threw away our ‘old’ underwear to make room. It was a great trip, made many memories, and lots of laughing. I look at some of my things and remember that trip!

  4. Ahhh Lucca i love this place. I go there every year and just chill and live like a local. So much to see and enjoy . Getting really popular and gets really busy in summer time. I love antique hunting here but can’t bring everything home unfortunately to SCalif😏

  5. How great is all of that! I just got home from Paris and the Normandy area and I saw only a few antique stores that were filled mostly with large furniture. Unfortunately I was there on the wrong days for Saint Ouen, and I didn’t see even one thrift or second hand store. I had hopes of finding wonderful textiles for my business, but came home empty handed in that respect. Boo, but still, just being there was wonderful!

  6. Thank you Marion for this lovely flea market tour. I was in Italy 2 years ago and came home with gifts for everyone but myself. My hope is that I’ll get there one day again. Those scissors are a work of art.

  7. Wow! I felt like I was walking beside you and experiencing it all. Thank you so much for sharing this experience with us!! I love your blogs and really all that you do…videos, tips on oil paint, and of course Miss Mustard Seed tips, and just your thought process is amazing and interesting to read!!! Have a great Fall season!!

  8. We just got back from Italy and were in Lucca the week before the flea market. I’m crying looking at all your photos and seeing what I missed. But… I wouldn’t have seen the Tuscany Philharmonic performing Mozart’s Requiem in the cathedral the week before if I had been there the week after. Highlight of the trip for sure.

  9. Hi Marian!, I am Daniela, an italian brocanteur based in Florence. I travel a lot on the most importants markets in Italy, France and England, more and more times in a year, and sell the objects I find on my site. I have specialized in small and low-cost items, but recently I am starting a collaboration with several retailers, Italian, Dutch and English for which I search specific objects in the large markets I frequent. So, if you’re interested in anything specific, I can look it up for you on my travels.

  10. I’d kinda hate to go thrifting here because they’d surely have tons of stuff that I want and couldn’t afford, and even if I could I wouldn’t be able to bring it all home with me on the plane! But I suppose window shopping is fun too 🙂

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