Where to buy art supplies in Florence
On the first day of our 6-week intensive program with Florence Academy of Art, we were taken to Zecchi (www.zecchi.it) to purchase our supplies for the course. While we were very impressed with the quality and specialisation of their products, we were also a bit startled by their prices. We thought that there must surely be cheaper places to buy supplies in a city with as many practicing artists as Florence. After asking all the artists we know and conducting our own tour of all the stores in town, the answer is…not really. If you want a good range of quality products there are essentially 4-5 stores to choose from, all with fairly similar prices. If you are on a tight budget you might want to travel with at least some of your own supplies. The list below covers the major art supplies stores within the city of Florence, ranging from most expensive ($$$) to least expensive ($).
A note about street numbers: In Florence, street numbers are either blue (residential) or red (commercial). When looking for the addresses given below, you need to find the red street number corresponding to the address.
Another important note: Many of the major art shops (including Zecchi) close for the month of August when everyone is on holidays. If you are travelling to Florence in August, don’t rely on being able to purchase all the supplies that you need once you arrive.
Via dello Studio (Duomo) 19r, 50122 Firenze
Zecchi is arguably the most famous art store in Florence, and many of the professional artists who live in the city purchase their materials here. They are specialists in oil painting supplies, and stock brands including Mussini, Maimeri, Rembrandt, and their own Zecchi brand. They also sell their own dry pigments, including historic pigments such as ultramarine from lapis lazuli and genuine vermillion. Here you can truly find all the supplies you would need to draw and paint in the style of the old masters, including more obscure items such as black mirrors, squirrel brushes and silver point styli and papers. This is no accident – Zecchi is the preferred supplier to many of the academies in Florence teaching in the realist tradition. They also sell restoration supplies. Tubes of oil paint start from €6.30/60ml. A good place to buy off-cuts of canvas roll and boards for painting, but the range of pre-stretched canvases is relatively small – Zecchi make canvases to order.
Via dei Servi 71r, Firenze
Rigacci is a charming store near the Accademia with a beautifully displayed selection of fine supplies. Oil paint brands include Rembrandt, Windsor and Newtown, Schmincke Mussini, and Ferrario Van Dyck. Unfortunately all of the oil paints are held behind the counter and no price information is displayed, which makes Rigacci a slightly more challenging place to shop. However, on seeing the price list from behind the counter it's possible to by 420ml tins of oil paint for €11.30. 1L of cold-pressed Linseed Oil for €10.50 or 1L Refined Turpentine for €16. When it comes to bulk buying, Rigacci seems to be the place to shop.
Via degli Alfani 111/r, Firenze
Salvini specialises in painting supplies. A very large range of stock, with oil paint brands including Maimeri, Windsor and Newtown, Schmincke Mussini, Ferrario Van Dyck, Pēbēo. Oils start from €6.45/60ml.
Manzani Belle Arti $$$
Via de’ Cerchi (Duomo) 30-32r, Firenze
Manzani stocks an excellent range of supplies for drawing, illustration and graphic design. They have a good range of diaries, note books and sketch-books, and have lots of pencil sets and water-colour kits that are suitable for the travelling illustrator. Conveniently located if you want to pick up some sketching supplies before visiting the Uffizi.
Lory Belle Arti $$
Lory Piazza Frescobaldi (Ponte S. Trinità) 4-9/r, 50125 Firenze
Lory Belle Arti is a large and reasonably priced art supplies store with a particularly good range of supplies for drawing, drafting, graphic design and illustration. They also stock a decent range of oil paints, with brands including Maimeri, Winsor & Newtown, Rembrandt, and Royal Talens. Oils start from €5.70/60ml. A 40x50cm linen canvas will cost you €7.50.
Via Giuseppe Verdi 67r, 50122 Firenze
A paint and hobby shop, Bati stocks a wide range of general art supplies at generally reasonable prices, although the quality is not as high as for the stores listed above and the stock tends to be a bit patchy. A good place to buy sketch pads, paper and pre-stretched canvases—a 40x50 linen canvas will cost you €7. Oil paints start from €6.50/60ml.
Via San Gallo 105r, Firenze
Office and school supplies, paint, and coffee machines (!). A small stock of Maimeri oils, acrylics and gouache. Well-priced paper blocks and sketch books.
Baccetti Colori $$
Via del Ponte alle Mosse 177/A, 50144 Firenze www.baccetticolori.it
A smaller art supplies store to the west of Stazione di Santa Maria Novella. Not the biggest range of paints and brushes, no drawing supplies. Stock Maimeri and Ferrario Van Dyck, with prices starting from €6.20/60 ml. A 40x50 linen canvas costs €10.60.
Color & Hobby di Sardelli $
Via dei Serragli 37r, 50124 Firenze
A paint store that is more like a hardware store than an art shop. Here you can buy cheap paintbrushes, large paintbrushes, paint rollers, spray paint, acrylic paint in large and small quantities, dry pigments, tempera and some oil paint (Accademia brand, €4.80/60ml), varnishes, solvents, large quantities of gesso, model paste.
Best for oil paints: Zecchi. Rigacci, Salvini and Lory Belle Arti
Best for drawing supplies: Zecchi, Rigacci, Lory Belle Arti and Manzani Belle Arti
Best value for pre-stretched canvases: Bati, Lory Belle Arti