Finally, Florence

Sadly, the last leg of the trip came upon us and we will soon be going home after the final five days in Florence. However, despite my general melancholy over leaving Europe soon I am beyond joyous to have arrived in this gorgeous mecca of art at long last! Visiting Florence has always been a dream of mine ever since I was a small child, and this place really delivers on all the promises it made to my young imagination. From the massive architecturally elaborate cathedrals, to the magnificent marble statues, and even down to the cobblestone streets Florence as a city is one giant artpiece. As per our continuing tradition, on our arrival day we took a walking tour of this grand city all the way over the oldest bridge in Florence which is appropriately named the “Old bridge.” Along the way we not only saw the numerous designer shops that littered the streets such as Furla, Diesel, and Chanel but we also encountered several very talented artists who were selling their prints in the streets. This dichotomy of high-end products placed alongside local and world-reknowned art is what makes Florence such a unique destination, and allows it to live up to its title of the “City of Artists.” Although Florence was more of a noticeably tourist area due to its smaller size, you could easily ascertain who was a native of the city solely by their fashion sense. Similar to the residents of Milan in overall taste, the Florentine women wore flowy silk tops with strappy sandals and small clutch bags while the men sported designer polo shirts, fitted and snug jeans paired with flashy designer belts, and fashionable sneaker style shoes. Even bakers and shopkeepers still dressed with the easy air and attentiveness to detail that Italian people are known for. Of course, being surrounded by as well as producing some of the world’s most famous designers probably plays a huge role in the Italian fashion taste. Speaking of notable designers who helped to make Florence such a fashion center brings me to talk about our first museum trip in Florence to the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum. Born in Bonito, Italy Salvatore Ferragamo was always fascinated with the human anatomy, and most notably with people’s feet. His fascination with shoes was evidenced even as early as nine years old when he designed his first pair for his older sisters to attend thier confirmations. His work ethic (gleaned from growing up in a poor family) pushed him to move first to Boston and then to Hollywood, California where he quickly gained his fame designing glamorous shoes for famous starlets such as Audrey Hepburn. Known for creating shoes that were custom made, Ferragamo’s obsession with feet provided him the insight into crafting shoes that not only looked fabulous on the outside but were just as pleasurable to wear because of their made-to-measure proportions. Credited with introducing the wedge (due to lack of resources during WWII), Ferragamo’s shop in Florence became world-reknowned for its designer’s fantastic made-to-order footwear. Salvatore Ferragamo wasn’t the only rising star in Florence though, as evidenced by the fact that the globally recognized brand Gucci also had its roots in this city. Our second museum visit was to the Gucci Musuem where we learned about Guccio Gucci’s own rise from poverty to become one of the biggest and most well-known names in fashion. Inspired by the wealthy guests that frequented the hotel that he worked at in London, a young Guccio Gucci returned to his home in Florence and started producing his own line of travel bags and accessories. As his designs got increasingly more popular, Gucci started to branch out into home goods and other products eventually creating a lifestyle brand that was carried on by his eldest son. The result of so much fashion and art melded into one small expanse of a city has solidified Florence as one of the most artistically bent cities in the world. However, as most people may know Florence is not only praised for its magnificent artwork or its fashionable districts, rather Florence is also highly revered for its food and even more for its wine. Therefore, I could not come to Florence and not go on a wine tour in one of the vineyards that are in such close proximity to this beautiful city. The tour that I and four other girls chose was one that started off in a wine school in Florence and then transported its eager participants to two different vineyards with plenty of wine tastings interspersed throughout the trip. Both of the wineries resided in the Chianti Classico region of Italy, which is most famous for some of the most delicate, heady, and fruity wines in the world. A guided tour through both location’s cellars ensued and then we were given multiple glasses of wine to sample at each stop. As a whole, this particular portion of the trip became one of my favorite memories from traveling abroad and I will always be grateful for the experience. As a whole, Europe offered up some of the most amazing sights and adventures that I have ever lived through in my life. If I had to classify each stop in terms of artistic temperment I would say that London is the major hub for affordable and high end retail and obvious royal influence. France I would label as the home for luxury and attention to detail in every aspect of living. Milan is most certainly my pick for most interesting and expensive fashion capital, and Florence I would say would be the center for artistic and cultural influence. On this trip I learned so much about fashion and how it has weaved its way into our daily lives, and how influential it truly is on every aspect of life. Overall, I have been incredibly blessed to take this trip and to gather so much new information and experience that I can translate into future success for myself, and for this I am the most grateful. Can’t wait to visit Europe again someday and to continue to see where my life takes me!

“Perseus with the Head of Medusa”

View of the “Old Bridge” in Florence.

One of Salvatore Ferragamo’s famous wedge designs in the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum.

Gucci bags in the Gucci Museum.

Me and my friends at the second vineyard in the Chianti Classico region.

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