If you’re planning on going to the highly anticipated opening of Harrods in Florence next week, don’t. It’s not on. Not only is it not on, Harrods in Florence doesn’t exist and won’t exist.
The idea that Harrods would establish a store in Florence had traction about a year ago when several digital mags ran stories claiming that Qatar Holding was apparently interested in Florence Real Estate. No ‘sources’ were supplied in any of the Harrods articles.
Then a flurry of dedicated Facebook pages by various Florentine travel companies opened. The travel/tourism companies created a fictional Harrods Grand Opening and subsequently generated excellent promotion and Search Engine Optimization.
But there is no Grand Harrods Opening on September 30th at 4pm. On one ‘Harrods’ Facebook page almost 6K people have RSVP’ed even though no address is supplied. 27K are ‘interested’ in attending. On another shonky Harrods Facebook page apparently 3.7K people are going to attend the Grand Opening and another 29K are interested.
After seven phone calls and several emails to the London Harrods Press Office to verify a proposed Harrods, PR Manager Denise Higgins has confirmed there was a lot of fake news going around Florence.
I suppose that’s what I have found so fascinating. How fast and far the gossip spread in Florence that Harrods was going to open. How the expat and tourist community became so excited over a big British department store. The alleged opening of Harrods seemed to strike a chord in everyone.
Expats who live in Florence were thrilled to have a Harrods in town. Woohoo! Finally, good tea without having to go to England to get it! Lamb sausages too! As the only kind of sausages available in Italy are pork (and very, very fatty pork) the idea of a caramelized onion lamb sausage had most Florentine Anglo Saxon expats in ecstasy. A steak pie? Bring it!
Yet, regular visitors and Italiaphiles were outraged at the very thought of Harrods opening in Florence. A Food Hall? Yet another erosion of Italian culture! Don’t let them do it, many said. Harrods is like McDonald’s, they will consume and destroy Italy’s traditional cuisine. Yet, Eataly and countless other Italian food shops flourish in London and throughout the UK. Can’t we have an English Food Hall here? It’ll take more than Harrods to destroy the Italian obsession with good food, and slow food.
As far as Italians go, it seems that few local Florentines had heard the gossip, or fake news. The false information is spreading a little now, but mostly Italians had no idea.
A further Florentine Real Estate update. The chatter flew that Harrods was considering an Apple store location in Piazza della Repubblica. Nope, not true. Or down the side of the Hard Rock Café in Via dei Corsi. Nope, not true either – the big fit-out in Via dei Corsi will be Zara Home, not Harrods.
I was duped by this scam too. It seems a possible Harrods in Florence did not leave anyone without an opinion. What is everyone afraid of?