It’s been three years since I embarked on a Fashion Events & PR Course at the Instituto Europeo Design (IED) in Florence, Italy.
Wow – what an experience that was!
The IED Fashion Events & PR Course was a four week, summer short course designed to give students experience and an insight into the Italian fashion world, with exposure to Italian fashion houses, labels and various fashion influences.
Because this week marks exactly three years since I embarked on the course, I thought it would be fitting to give you a run down of the top places to visit whilst in Florence, as well as what I did and what I enjoyed most about my time in this beautiful city.
Throughout my time in Florence, myself and my fellow students lived in shared apartment accommodation that was situated on Via Gino Capponi, right near Piazza della Santissima Annunziata.
Luckily, we never had to memorise the street names, as they were a mouthful!
We were within walking distance of the IED, which was handy when we needed to duck home for an outfit change in the middle of the day (trust me, it happened – we were fashion students!).
Every morning, we would make the very short walk to the IED, and along the way would stop for caffe latte (hot coffee with milk) and a fette biscottate (cookie-like, rusk hard bread) or two from La Bottega del Fornaio, which was a quaint hole-in-the-wall cafe where they eventually knew us by name and order!
Not ONCE did we catch any form of public transport, as we were so close to everything.
Our days were spent either on campus working with Italian fashion designers and publicists, or on excursions where we would visit Italian fashion houses and exhibitions.
Our lunch breaks, afternoons, evenings and weekends were spent exploring, and every weekend we took the opportunity to travel to other parts of the country such as Sienna, Cinque Terre, and Venice, and to the designer fashion outlet shopping district!
THINGS YOU MUST DO IN FLORENCE
Visit the Continentale Hotel Rooftop
One of the best evenings I had in Florence was at the Continentale Hotel, which is a stunning 4 star hotel overlooking the Ponte Vecchio.
We spent the evening at their rooftop bar, which had a truly glamorous atmosphere. We felt like we had truly hit the jackpot!
The Continentale Hotel is a fantastic place for an aperitivo or two, as you gaze out to the incredible view. I would recommend heading here just before sunset.
See the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo
This is an experience you do not want to miss, and is most definitely worth the small walk there.
Piazzale Michelangelo offers panoramic views of Florence and the Arno Valley, and truly is breathtaking. Here you will find a bronze replica of Michaelangelo’s David, and plenty of tourists.
Bring your camera, and make sure you get the money shot of the incredible summer sunset.
Visit the Boboli Gardens
We spent a warm summer’s morning at the Boboli Gardens, where we frolicked through the incredibly groomed green sculptures and garden areas, and had the time of our lives experiencing nature.
These gardens are one of the greatest open-air museums in Florence and the amphitheater really is something special. The perfect time to visit is definitely early morning or late evening.
Spend the morning at the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum
We did exactly this one morning as part of one of our IED excursions, and it was an experience I will never forget.
Salvatore Ferragamo was an Italian shoe designer who made very unique footwear. His super creative approach to shoes meant that he created many works of art, which has now evolved into a luxury goods empire spanning the world.
The Museum itself is dedicated to the life and work of Salvatore and contains 10,000 models of shoes created and owned by Ferragamo. The Museum collection also includes films, press cuttings, advertising materials, clothes and accessories – and the Museum shop truly is something not to be missed either!
Climb Florence’s Cathedral, The Duomo
The Duomo is a piece of Florence that:
a) you will not miss as it is HUGE, and
b) is something that you will never forget.
Both the interior and exterior are breathtakingly beautiful, and entry is free (but expect long lines).
I highly recommend climbing up to the very top of the cupola which will offer you an extraordinary view of Florence. There is no elevator, so you must climb the 463 steps (and work off that gelato in the process).
We took the walk up here early one morning when there were no lines, and it truly was magical.
Take a dip at Le Pavoniere
We quite often beat the summer heat by heading to Le Pavoniere, which is a gorgeous swimming pool that is enriched with history and culture. We spent an entire day here sunning ourselves and enjoying the Tuscan sun.
Spend time wandering along the Ponte Vecchio
At dusk, this is one thing that you need to do.
By day, the Ponte Vecchio is filled with the hustle and bustle of people visiting the various goldsmiths and jewellers that are sprawled along the bridge.
By night, the wooden shutters of the closed shops provide mystery, and the bridge turns into a very romantic spot for an evening stroll that showcases incredible views across the Arno River.
Eat at least two scoops of gelato every day
It’s a requirement that when visiting Italy you must consume copious amounts of gelato, and because you’ll be walking around everywhere, your waistline wont regret it.
You’ll find gelato shop’s allllllllll over the city as they are pretty much on every corner.
My favourite would have to be Festival del Gelato. You can’t miss it, it has a massive neon sign out the front!
Take a stroll through the leather markets
Even if you’re not into shopping, I guarantee you’ll find something at the leather markets.
The indoor market is in a building that dates back to the 19th century, and is filled with countless food vendors that will offer everything you need for a picnic lunch. The leather market itself may appear overwhelming at first as they are huge, but do spend your time window shopping first before making your purchase.
That is literally what I mean.
Get lost in this beautiful city by wandering around the many side streets and alleyways, and explore all the little shops, market stalls and other hidden beauties.
We would often do this, knowing that there is no way we could get properly lost, as eventually an alleyway would lead to a Piazza where we were then able to navigate from.
This is one of the best ways you can explore Florence.
Living and studying in Florence was one of the best things that I have even done, and it was an experience that I will honestly never forget. The friends that I made, and the things that I learnt from my time there will forever hold a strong place in my heart!
Click here if you would like further information on the IED Fashion Events and PR Course.
If you are a student who is interested in attending this course and would like further information, please do get in touch.