Via Aerea

Madova gloves

Crossing the Ponte Vecchio and entering tiny Madova—with its drawers full of supple cashmere- and silk-lined gloves, its little board displaying the labels of great old American department stores the shop once did business with—evokes a nostalgia for old-world gentility, a time when fine-quality gloves were considered quotidian essentials. But if you can't get to Florence, you might consider, as we did, ordering a pair of Madovas by mail. You'll be denied the sensory pleasures of buying them at the source, but the process is efficient. Madova's 30-page catalogue, with an old-fashioned look and a very matter-of-fact order form, includes photographs of each model and a chart of 16 colors. As the brochure mentions, the colors of the gloves you receive don't always correspond precisely with those on the chart, but the company will issue exchanges or refunds for any merchandise that fails to please. Madova accepts all major credit cards, as well as checks drawn on U.S. banks. It also maintains a very thorough Web site. We faxed in an order for two pairs of gloves, and a month later they arrived in our mailbox. And while we would have preferred to purchase them in person, then perhaps visit the Pontormo frescoes in the Santa Felicità church next door, ordering our Madova gloves through the mail was certainly the next best thing. From $26.50 to $150. Via Guicciardini 1r; 39-055-239-6526;