Much to my classmates’ delight, our stay in Florence runs synchronously to the taping of Jersey Shore: Season 4, in the ‘Flor (excuse my corniness, I just couldn’t help it), and we’ve happened to run into the infamous troublemakers on a couple of occasions.
In addition to visiting J.K. Place and Antico Setificio Fiorentino today, we also went to a small family owned silver craftsman and learned about its business structure. Throughout the day and after our “classes” — our 3 business visits — we did tons of sight seeing.
Our first visit today was to Antico Setificio Fiorentino, which literally translates as “ancient Florentine silk factory.” That’s exactly what it was! Operating strongly since 1700s, this factory is quietly situated in a craftsmen area just a few minutes from downtown’s Florence’s Duomo and Uffizi Gallery. Master weavers work on antique sewing looms in this “bottega” to create traditional Florentine fabrics and damasks. Their handlooms date from the 18th and 19th centuries and still perform impeccably. Designing and making the fabrics is a slow process, due to the very labor intensive tasks required in order to maintain the high quality products it produces (read: $$$$).
5.25.2011 Classes in Florence
Florence is incredible so far. Each day, we go to about 2-3 companies and learn about how they conduct business. If we’re not on a business visit during the day, we’re a museum or some historic place where we learn about Italy’s ancient artists, getting to see some of its oldest and most popular works. I’m really digging this class style. Since it’s only a two week class, there are no class lectures. It’s all about getting out there! Hopping from firm to firm, museum to museum. It’s so much more genuiely engaging and exciting!
More pictures and about one of our business visits to the lovely J.K. Place:
It’s our second day in Florence so far and have already seen so much! I’ve got to say that our hotel here is SO much better than it was in Rome — tiny with uncomfortable beds. Tamika and I have a pretty large room on the top floor with a balcony! (I love balconies.) It’s only 5 floors up, but the view is still pretty and relaxing. Our beds are softer here, too.
After our last stop in Rome, we hit the road for a 2 hour bus trip to Florence — but we got an exciting pit stop along the way to Siena! Siena, Italy is a quaint little town in Tuscany, Italy and also another one of the country’s most largely visited places.
5.25.11 – Città del Vaticano!
Yesterday we took a trip to the unbelievable Vatican. I had never before imagined that it was that massive and beautiful. That place is absolutely amazing….the most amazing place I’ve ever been to in life. The Vatican is it’s own city state within the city of Rome, ruled by the Pope. I was in COMPLETE awe the whole time being there, in the largest structure of art I have seen (which before had been the Louvre in Paris). I can’t even fathom how long it must have took to design and build. It’s mind blowing to imagine how much importance religion holds in Italian culture – it was mainly the Catholic faith that led ancient Romans toward even constructing this religious site and artists’ creations of such grandeur. Would these buildings, monuments, portraits, and scenery ever have been created if it weren’t for the Church? It really makes me wonder. Even though I’m not Catholic, being in the Vatican felt really powerful to me. To be in this place so extremely rich in religious history, where people come from all corners of the earth to worship… just wow… you can’t be here and not be stunned.
For more pictures of this amazing space…
5.23.11 – Foreign Services and Fashion
Today we visited to U.S. Embassy in downown Rome – definitely an interesting experience. Unfortunately we couldn’t take any pictures here for security reasons. I felt very professional touring the building, as though I was about to be a part of an important meeting sitting in the large conference room. We heard from an Jeff Alson, who told us a lot about the economics side of the State Department. We heard about how Foreign Commercial Services help U.S. business in Italy, about international partnerships, etc. Italy has a very large and diverse economy… most of the relationships are stable but some discrepancies occur between Northern and Southern Italy since they are so different economically. The North is more established and more economically stable, whereas much of Southern Italy is poor and rural. Jeff explained how the U.S. Government works with the Italian Government, and how having an embassy here actually helps U.S. officials understand the culture and all the nuances that result from interacting with a completely different nation. He told us a little about each of the 5 sectors; economics, politics, public diplomacy, management, and the conciliate, and also about the various ways one can work with Foreign Service in the government (as a diplomat, through civil service, or as a specialist).
for pictures and details about being at the Brioni headquarters