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Firenze - Day 3 - Candelaria Design Tour Italy 2015

We only have one full day in Florence, and I know that doesn’t sound like a lot of time, and it isn’t. You could spend a week just here in Florence to absorb all the culture, history, architecture, and cuisine. But our trip is about giving the traveler, many who have never been to Italy, a small sampling of all that Italy has to offer so I like to think of it as more of a macro journey than a micro journey. You can get the big picture with this trip and each day is dialed in so no time is ever wasted. You can then come back on your own with a lot more confidence and a lay of the land to really ”micro” experience the places you want to see in greater detail. Imagine going to the Grand Canyon and spending two weeks there and then coming home and telling everyone you saw America.

So with one day in Florence, what do you do? I start the day with my own 7am walking tour of the city. Now of course you are exhausted but why not really take it to the limit and max out the time you are here. I love my early morning walking tour because no one is one the streets at 7am or earlier. The light is amazing and it is a unique way to see and experience the treasures of this place without the thousands of tourists, cars and vespas, and the sounds of pulsating emergency vehicles seemingly always in the background, that incessantly distract you from the real beauty of the city. I usually get 6-8 travelers who will rally from their jet lag to make this walk and capture wonderful photos and take part in this really hard to get experience.

With the walk completed, most of us enjoyed a nice breakfast at the hotel and then some went for a morning power nap while a couple of us made the journey up the Duomo campinelle for a fantastic view while others went to the top of the dome for an even more spectacular view. Several went on the guided walking tours arranged through the hotel which are really great. With these tours you skip the long lines for the Academia and the Uffizi Gallery. The campinelle is a great work out and you are well rewarded with a breathtaking view of the dome, church and town.


With our morning excursions completed, several of us went on a tour of the Stephano Ricci store in the heart of Florence arranged by our traveler Doray Elkins who has been in the clothing and fashion business for years. This would be just the start of the total experience with fashion we would be experiencing this day. Our tour of the store was guided by  Alessandro Ciucci who explained the whole philosophy of Stephano Ricci and their commitment to producing the best product and offering the best service as if each customer is their best friend or member of their family and it showed. The men’s clothing is impeccable with exquisite and sophisticated styling consisting of fabrics that are beyond description.

From Stephano Ricci we went for a short walkthrough town, whereupon we received word from Stephano Ricci’s son. Filipo that we would be welcomed for a tour of their actual factory where they make the fabrics for their stores as well as for most of the fashion industry. This place was amazing with looms being operated much as they have been over two hundred years if not longer. A device original designed by Leonardo Da Vinci was still in use. These fabrics are simply to die for. Most are silk with a color, sheen, iridescence and texture that is beyond belief. What a fantastic tour this was and yet another example of the passion Italians give to their clothing and fabric. It is truly an art.

From there we had a 15 minute walk to the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica. Let’s just call this Italian version of a Walgreens. It is one of the oldest pharmacies in the world founded in 1222 by Dominican friars and uses medicinal herbs grown in the monastic gardens of the pharmacy and this place has every herb, scent, soap, lotion, etc. you could think of made from these herbs. Ok their products and history are amazing but as an architect truly appreciate the design, artistry and craftsman ship of this building/compound. This is a definite must just around the corner from the Santa Maria Novella church which of course is also a must…..ok remember I said to keep it a macro trip! Ok it was getting close to 5pm so back to the hotel for a quick power nap and then down to the hotel lobby bar for a quick cocktail and then a short walk to dinner.

Dinner the night before we of course were at the Villa Ste. Michele high above the hills of Florence. Tonight we would contrast that with dinner right on the street al fresco style. I love this dinner as we were all decked out the night before and tonight it’s a lot more casual and relaxed as we dine right in front of the Duomo at the Buca San Giovanni. It is always a nice setting where the group is a lot more relaxed and a little recovered from the traveling even though five of my travelers still did not have their bags! During the course of dining Isabel noticed that Amber, my Project Manger, Tim Mathewson, girlfriend was wearing something that was glistening on her left hand! Isabel asked, “What is that on your hand Amber???” The cat was out of the bag. Tim had proposed to Amber at the top of the Duomo! Now the party and trip was really on! Congratulations to the two of them!

Finish the evening with a nighttime stroll through the city and a little gelato of course. Wow, one more memory on this trip!!! Hey we have more than 10 days to go… you think maybe we could have a grand finale’ up our sleeve???? Stay tuned.