It’s time for Hills & West’s next adventure. The wanderlust has kicked in and the strong desire to be inspired, meet wonderfully new colourful characters, eat amazing cuisine and create some beautiful new products is about to be satisfied.
A journey to a place steeped in history; a place where masters once roamed, cathedrals were built, fashion flourished and art lived and breathed amongst its people.
Florence, Tuscany, I am excited to call you home for five weeks.
Yes, Florence: the unrivalled birthplace of luxury leather, and the manufacturing hub to the fashion houses of today. A place where the most highly skilled of artisans are born and trained, their skills commissioned by the designers of the leather goods we so covet: Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Pierotucci to name a few.
For hundreds of years Florentian tanners, leather craftsmen and artisans have dressed European royalty. Their timeless traditions and art forms have been passed down through the generations; their methods of tanning, leather selection and production of the highest quality, earning them praise, recognition and worldwide demand. Anyone who is anyone appreciates a genuine “Made in Italy”; the tag known to represent quality, class and durability – and a fitting price tag.
How did this come about?
Sometimes I need to pinch myself at how lucky I am with where my journey is taking me. A wonderful friend of mine introduced me to a fellow passionate bespoke, high-end shoe maker in Florence and suggested we try and hook up a Skype call. After a couple of months of trying the stars aligned and the conversation was energising. She talked about an initiative she runs for women entrepreneurs called #trailblazers and before I knew it I was saying YES. Now, six months later I am packing for my adventure. It feels totally surreal.
So, it’s off to Florence I go to immerse myself in the culture, meet with those who share in my love of handbags, accessories and leather goods, to return with a suitcase full of new designs in February 2017. I can’t wait to explore the region and lose myself around every picturesque and historical corner.
I love writing and sharing experiences and hope to capture some of the essence of Florence in my pictures and stories. So here I start… following are some of the fun facts I have come across as I start to prepare for my new homestay.
Florence is the capital of Tuscany and spans around 100km squared.
The first coins of Florence were minted in 1235 in silver
- Florence became the first city in all of Europe to have paved streets in 1339
- The cathedral “Il Duomo” took around 140 years to build! They completed it in 1436
- Leonardo Da Vinci was born in a territory of Florence in 1452
- Michelangelo was born in 1475, and his statue of David can be found at The Accademia in Florence today
- It is reported that almost a THIRD of all the world’s art treasures reside in Florence
- Florence Nightingale, the woman famous for her nursing career, was born in Florence in 1820
- Even the piano was invented in Florence!
- Pitti Immagine Uomo is one of the world’s most famous platforms for men’s clothing and accessories, and for launching new projects in men’s fashion. It is held twice a year in Florence and will be on at the Fortezza da Basso, when I am there in January. Perfect timing.
It is fair to say that Florence is one of the most uniquely artistic corners of the world, and I simply can’t wait to be amongst it.
If you have any recommendations or are in Florence from Christmas to the 12th of February then let me know.
Ciao e parlare presto.