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At one of the stalls in Mercato Centrale, we were looking at leather wallets, and I noticed that the stall had a sign saying they were an "Authorised seller". Sorry, I didn't take a photo, but it had a red fleur de lis on it.

Does the sign mean that the goods in the stall are genuine leather?

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    Probably not - though the goods might have been genuine leather, that's probably not what the sign means. If it were an official sign, like the seller had permission to operate in a retail capacity at that location, then the sign would be in Italian, not English. The fact that it was in English is probably an indicator that it's meant for tourists to read and draw their own conclusions without saying anything meaningful. – Greg Hewgill Aug 18 '15 at 22:05
  • I'm sure they're authorised to sell something, but it probably isn't what you're looking for. – Michael Hampton Aug 18 '15 at 23:04
  • Was the red fleur de lis perhaps the Florentine flag? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Aug 18 '15 at 23:41
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo Yes, that was it! – Fodder Aug 19 '15 at 0:41
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I don't think that selling genuine leather follows from stating to be an authorised reseller. Rather I think that at best the sign is saying that the seller has paid the licencing fee to the council of Florence, which legally authorises them to carry out their trade and have a market stall. The idea being that it is forbidden to show up at the market in the morning and pitch your stall anywhere you want unless you are legally permitted to do so.

Although I do not wish to speculate on the genuineness of the permit sign you saw, I wrote at best because it could very well be that the permit is fake. However neither I nor you are for starters authorised to check this, nor do we have the knowledge and expertise to do so. Nevertheless as a tourist you should indeed care about your seller being an authorised one, since this effectively means that their business is registered and that they are more likely to pay taxes on their earnings. On the other hand an unregistered unauthorised seller is a nobody (and a felon) in the eyes of the law from both a professional and a fiscal point of view. Two problems arise if you happen to do business with the latter:

  1. You could very well be accused and convicted of receiving stolen goods (this is a penal offence under art. 712 of the criminal code) or receive an administrative sanction of 1.000 EUR (got violating art. 1 comma 7 of the Decreto Legge  n. 35/05 converted by law 80/2005 and subsequently modified by law n. 248/05 and law n. 49/06). See here for an informative link from the municipal police of Verona (in Italian).
  2. From a moral point of view you would be helping that person evade taxes. This is not exactly a minor point, but a complete discussion on the topic would be out of place here.

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