I just spent three beautiful days in Florence. I had been there once with my best friend a few years ago, for a fleeting day in the dead of winter. I remember it being bloody cold, but stunning. It was even better this time.

I could dedicate an entire post entirely to the doors and window sills I came across, but that could be a tad boring. I think fashion, architecture and food are universally accepted as interesting so I’ll report on them.

Firenze Fashion
The objective of the trip was to find my mum a wedding dress. This meant three days dedicated solely to shopping. Boom.

Italy truly is the home of fashion. The Italians just have swagger. All of them, young and old, male and female. It comes from a true pride in their appearance and attention to detail. The little elements that are hidden like sleeve and colour lining give them that little bit extra. I bet the women wear amazing lingerie as well!

This charisma extends to visual merchandising, which is beyond the norm of what we generally create at home. It seems they have an accomplished and unique undertsanding of form, colour and composition. I noticed that in each boutique all the assistants wore a uniform, and they looked seriously chic. There’s something to be said for the Australian way of giving shop assistants free reign to showcase the label’s collection. However, in Italy it seems each store has a confidence about its product. The assistants don’t need to showcase, the clothes speak for themselves.  The one store that did allow its retail staff to dress themselves, in my opinion looked a bit scrappy.

We went to an outlet called The Mall in the Tuscan countryside to find mum ‘the dress’. I was blown away by how well priced the stores were; Prada, Armani, Stella Mc, Balenciaga, Cavalli. Mum didn’t find a dress, but we found a divine linen shirt and pants for Vin to wear to the wedding. You must go if you visit Florence.

I had my obligatory Zara fix. I did what I do in all Zara’s around the world; I make a preliminary sweep of all levels, and choose at least two sizes of each garment as their sizing is so inconsistent. I then make day one’s purchases, and go back the next to make sure there was nothing I missed. Heads up; pastel is the trend for Aus summer 2012/13.

We also made two new discoveries. Pinko and Stefanel. The Pinko website doesn’t do it justice unfortunately, and they don’t deliver to Australia, only Europe. But it is absoultely worth a visit. Stefanel is also very well priced and could be compared to Sass & Bide.

Firenze Architecture
I wonder if the locals really appreciate their surroundings? Just like when I was living in Sydney and became a bit nonchalant about living near the harbour,do they acknowledge how lucky they are.

The city, surrounded by lush hills dotted with Cyprus pines is too beautiful and breath-taking to describe. Each building or structure is just old.  You can feel the history. A little research tells me it was during the reign of Julius Caesar that Florence came into existence, in the year 59 B.C. So old.

The renaissance architecture is overwhelming. It is so intricate and detailed. How long did these big frescos in the many cathedrals take to paint? As mentioned, the doors which lead to little courtyards and piazzas are gigantic and in some cases up to 8m high. They look so substantial and very safe; obviously they guarded some very important people and homes. I wonder how long it took those ancient carpenters to craft and install their master pieces!

The window sills are too cute. It just goes to show how easy it is to make an impact with just a few little flower pots. Again, swagger!

The food was delightful. Prosciutto, grilled vegetables, gelato, all sorts of cheeses. Everything you imagine to eat in Italy. As was the wine. It was lovely to sit outside many little cafes and watch people walking by enjoying a chianti and cheese. It does sound like the life!

It was a whirlwind little visit, with many funny stories and along the way. I am very lucky indeed.

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