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Florence Leather Shop - Real or Rip Off ?

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We just returned from Lake Como, Florence and Rome and will post a detailed trip report later. However, something happened in Florence and I'm still mulling over whether it was real or a rip-off.

While my husband and I were standing in a piazza close to the Ponte Vecchio bridge looking at our map, we were approached by an Italian who started chatting with us about where to go and various subjects. He told us he was a designer and visted the States frequently and that his leather company was a supplier for Saks. After a few moments of chatting, he invited us to his store to look at his designs. His name was Filippo Asti ( and the shop was just by the Ponte Vecchio bridge. Gorgeous shop with lots of expensive leather goods - quality appeared good, but I didn't examine very carefully.

Once there it was a little overwhelming - champagne was poured, we were made over and shown a book with his photo with many famous Americans. Showing his designs meant putting leather coats on me to try on. Then the "sell" came - I could purchase the coat for half off retail (beause we were so special) - but still about 900 euros and up.

I declined to buy because I felt it was all a faked show to get us in the shop and sell me an expensive coat. Once I indicated I wasn't interested in buying, the show ended and we were shown out.

I researched his name and found a posting on virutal tourist with a visitor who ordered a coat and was not happy with the quality when he received it and the shop refused to take it back. I found a couple of other postings from people who did purchase, so the approach and trip to the store appears to be a routine show.

Anyone else experienced this in Florence? Any thoughts on whether my instincts were right about the whole show.

Otherwise, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip and had a wonderful time.

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