Road Visions: Record Stores of Florence, Italy

Rock Bottom Records - Florence, Italy

Rock Bottom Records in Florence, Italy was my favorite shop in the city. (Photo – D. Hixon)

I’m traveling around Italy for the next week and a half and thus far this beautiful country exceeds all reputation. The food is exquisite, the architecture breathtaking, and the art’s priceless. My first stop was Florence, and while I went places that were expected like the Duomo and Michelangelo’s sculpture of David, I had to peep what Italian Record Stores had to offer.

Marquee Moon is a nice shop if local, but not yet a destination.

Marquee Moon is a nice shop if a local.

My first stop was Marquee Moon, a shop that resides in the shadow of the Duomo. The shop was quaint, but the prices, like all shops I visited, were not for the light of wallet. My biggest disappointment here was that 95% of all vinyl was brand new – and a lot of the releases were from the US. I browsed quickly, picked up Les Sins 12″ from last year (Toro y Moi side-project), and moved on. A great shop if you live in Italy, but not if you’re visiting looking for gems you can’t get back home. I’d equate it to a smaller Newbury Comics stateside.

Data 93 Records - Florence, Italy

Data 93 Records – Florence, Italy

Next up was Data 93 Records, a shop located near the Arno River, which was much more along the lines of what I was looking for. From the outside the shop looked like it would be as small or smaller as Marquee Moon, but the room really opened up as you snaked into the back. They wasted some prime space with CD’s up front – but the store was a treasure trove of used records, and virtually everything I picked up was an “import” or foreign non-US pressing. I got some great albums here (Soft Boys, Alex Chilton, Brothers Johnson, & More) and the staff, whom I believe were Father and Son, were incredibly helpful. The store was funky with a psychedelic ceiling and posters, and organization was decent, but heavy digging was still required to unearth good. Apparently in Europe college radio rock or alternative is universally called “New Wave” – That’s weird.

Rock Bottom's selection is as deep as the ocean.

Rock Bottom’s selection is as deep as the ocean.

The last shop I visited in Florence was Rock Bottom, and I certainly saved the best for last. The shop had a super crisp and clean feel about it, and the store was 100% dedicated to vinyl. What also blew my mind here was the intense organization of everything. There were no lazy listing just by the letter of the alphabet, each band had it’s own unique dedicated section. On top of this, each record was labeled with the Vinyl and Sleeve condition, and there was also a description of the pressing and record in each sleeve, which meant I didn’t have to “waste” my time checking to see if a record was a US pressing or not. They had a large variety of records, specializing in rock and indie, and their hyper organization made it easy (and dangerous) for me to find records. I got some killer first pressing from Germany, Holland, and the UK which you’d just never see in the states – such as: Daydream Nation, Goo, Forbidden Places, and Computer World. If you can only go to one shop in Florence, this is hands down the place to go.

Overall the shops were all great, but there’s no real “bargains” in any of these places. You have to be ready to pay close to Discogs retail for what you’re buying, but it’s worth it, especially given you’re not paying for shipping and the rarity of what you’re seeing given what’s back in the States. Overall an excellent job done by Florence.

D. Hixon

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