Get in the zone with some good music and a little motivation!

I apologize for my lack of posting! I’ve been very busy, I can assure you, here in Florence. The semester is coming to an end (we have only three weeks left), so right now is crunch time! It’s time to focus, get down to our study grind, and obviously make the most of the last few weeks of 2012!

Some people, like me, need a little extra something to get going. My #1 motivation is good music: without it, I will just sit around like a sloth (which is nice too).

Here are some of the jams coming out of my iPod. Take a listen, have a glass of wine, and get to work!

  1. Backseat(Rimer London Remix) – Staygold; Rimer London is an English electronic group I recently discovered. They usually stick with catchy female vocals, deep synthetic sounds, and a pop-beat.
  2. Beta Love – Ra Ra Riot; This band is one of my favorite, and they’ve come back with a great new single. I can’t help but to sing along with it everytime I hear. ** I will find a betttaaaa love! **
  3. Stayin’ Alive(K Theory & TYR Remix) – The Bee Gee’s; It’s nice to have an oldies throwback to get us all nostalgic. This is a remix that will have you’re feet tappin and your pencil snappin! (If that made any sense)
  4. Lifeline – Angels & Airwaves; a song from the Twilight Breaking Dawn Pt. II album, which was very well done with indie artists.
  5. Slow Motion(Dr. Luke/Benny Blanco Remix) ft. Three 6 Mafia – Ke$ha; An unreleased gem by none other than KESH – there is no such thing as a fashion student who does not like her.
  6. Sun – Two Door Cinema Club; Another one of my favorite bands, who’s in it to win it. Great song for any time of the day.
  7. Play Cards to Your Heart – Groove Armada; a song that gives me memories of my favorite television series, Skins. This is chill music for studying, or for pensively pretending like you’re studying.
  8. Numb ft. Eminem – Rihanna; From her new album, Unapologetic. So good, Her voice is divine and Em’s rap is swagalicious.
  9. Devil’s Tears – Angus & Julia Stone; This song makes me happy and sad at the same time. It’s essentially just a beautiful song, and is not too distracting to listen to while you multi-task.
  10. Ivory Road – King Charles; Lyrically genius, this song makes you think about your life and what you’re doing with it. It takes a few listens to get into it because it’s so quirky, but give it a chance and let your musical sense be tickled :)

In conclusion, now is the time to snuggle up with a cup of tea and get working on our endless amounts of projects, essays, exams and presentations that are due in no time at all. Let’s rock the rest of the year with good music and straight A’s!

Bacini a tutti!!!!

-(DJ) Zachary R :D

Blonde Ambition

A couple of weeks ago, my classmates and I were graced with the presence of Nita Tucker. She’s a writer, journalist, relationship-expert, consultant, and the founder of The Florentine — Florence’s only newspaper written in completely English. She is truly an inspirational woman, and if you don’t believe me, ask Oprah, who featured Nita on her show some years ago. One of our wonderful professors happens to be good friends with Nita, and thankfully she was in town and was able to stop by to share some of her wisdom. She shared a lot about her life and what she’s been through. At the age of 50, she realized that she had never lived in Europe (a dream of hers), and felt that it was “now or never.” Having been in love with Italy and particularly Florence, she made a decision to drop everything and come to Firenze with minimal cash and few people to call a friend. This, my friends, is cold, hard, precarious chancery. Her husband was not as supportive as he could have been, and her children were young, but she had a feeling in her gut that this was the right move. She told us about her struggles, and about her triumphs. She experienced things significant enough to write a couple of books about. Eventually, Nita took it upon herself to begin a newspaper in English—a brilliant idea, considering the second most common language spoken in Florence is English, after Italian, naturally. It was a huge risk, and certainly required guts on her end. She sacrificed a lot in order for the Florentine to work out, but today it’s read by English speakers and Italians alike. She told us that some English professors in Florence use articles from it to help teach their students English. Not only are their issues all over town, but they are present online, with an easy to navigate website. Evidently, things worked out for Nita, and this brought her to a socialite-status in Florence. She spoke about being friends with the Ferragamos, and on her website you’ll find photos of her posing in beautiful gardens, looking intellectual at book-readings, and speaking with Ted Kennedy. Nita is not your average American-turned-Italian.

When it all boils down, Nita is just an ambitious, curious, sweetheart. She’s got strong intuition, lofty goals, and an incredible drive. She’s got insight like you’ve never seen, and this has been displayed in her speeches and in her books (she’s published about 5). She was kind enough to inform us of her favorite hot-spots in Florence, which was definitely helpful for us students. Aside from all of this, she gave us some great, unforgettable advice.

Here are some things that stuck in my mind:

  • “If you see an open door, go inside. You never know what you’ll see or who you’ll meet.” We were told that people here are generally open-minded and inviting. If you receive an opportunity of any kind, take it! What’s the worst that could happen?
  • “Try to be interested, not necessarily interesting.” This reminds me to show people that you care about them and what they have to say, as opposed to superimposing your supposed “greatness,” and being selfish.
  • Florence is definitely not the place for shy/timid people. Everybody here is very outgoing and charismatic.
  • Italians are all about establishing relationships, through which people are overtly amiable and helpful. There is not so much customer service as there is kindness and personal relationships. If you’re nice, people will reciprocate. If you enter a store and simply say hello, you will be well respected.
Hearing Nita speak definitely opened Florence up to me, and explained a lot of the traditions and customs that I have seen but not quite understood.

Mid-October

Hey yall. I’m sitting home on a Friday night, writing my second blog post, after a tiresome week studying and living in Florence. Looking back on the past few days, it’s been pretty jam-packed. This past week was midterms, so you can only imagine our sleepless nights and our endless test-taking/project presenting. Renaissance Art required a ton of memorization and analytical thinking. We had a huge project due for The Business of Licensing class, so we were busy putting together a succint/informative physical presentation, and slaving away at our 28-page research paper on licensed goods. Leadership Development for Retailing had us quizzing each other with note cards non-stop, and I think we all basically know how to be managers at this point.

On Wednesday, we had one of our weekly FITSA meetings. We discussed some recent group activities, such as a hike through the mountains to Fiesole, our most recent potluck dinner, and a soccer game at Florence’s own “calcio” stadium. We also discussed things we’ll be doing together in the near future, ie: The Perugia Chocolate Festival (the BIGGEST chocolate festival in EUROPE and we are going TOMORROW!!!!!), more soccer games, cooking classes, and a trip to Venice for Carnival.

As I just mentioned, tomorrow we will be waking up bright and early to go to Perugia, where they hold a MASSIVE annual chocolate festival, called Eurochocolate. We are so extremely excited to stuff our faces with nothing but chocolate for an entire day. They apparently have some pretty groundbreaking choco-related things there, like a map of Italy (important monuments like the Colosseum/Duomo di Milano included) made ENTIRELY OF CHOCOLATE. As a big choco-head, I am personally excited beyond belief.

Today, we took a trip to Prato to see one of the biggest/most well known textile-industry locations in the world. It’s been producing yarns and wool textiles for over 1,000 years, so it was a pretty significant amount of fiber-observing/touching. We went to a Textile Museum, and did a lot of standing around, watching machines do their thing, spinning, stretching, manipulating and wrapping up long strings of fibers being spun into yarns. We saw the entire rainbow, every imaginable color of yarns. HOWEVER, I will be doing a separate post on this because I have so many fabulous photos to share from today.

Also, some of us were paid an in-class visit from Nita Tucker, who is an author, public-speaker, and is the founder of The Florentine, which is the only newspaper in all English in Florence. She was very inspirational, and has been on OPRAH!!! Perhaps that means as much to you as it does to me? She also told us some of her favorite places to go in Florence, which we are SO grateful for. Anyway, I will be wiring a special blog post just about her as well, so just put this thought in your back pocket.

So… to make a long story short, we finished midterms, went on a fun field-trip to Prato today, and will be going to the Chocolate Festival tomorrow. Things are swell for us here in Italy, to say the least. Also, I feel it’s worth mentioning that my friends and I found a GREAT Mexican restaurant and had delicious burritos (4 euro!) and a ginormous plate of nachos with salsa and guac (sort of hard to come by in Italia) (5 euro split b/w us!). I was feeling filled to the brim with Mexican, bean cheese and rice filled lovin’.

Below are some photos I took, hope you enjoy! Until next time, I’m Zach, 3rd year FIT student, studying abroad in Florence and loving life! xx

Vivi bene?

Chiaroscurro – a really good coffee bar

Across the Arno

Rainy Piazza Signoria

Mexican food in my belly!

A nice lil' tuscan country scene.

A nice lil’ tuscan country scene.

A medieval castle in Prato

This is how they make a heathered knit

some pretty cool yarns

What’s Gucci, yo?

Hey guys!

My name is Zach, and I’m studying International Fashion Merchandising/Marketing in Florence for my 3rd year at FIT. I’m pleased to say that I’ll be blogging for the FIT in Florence blog now!

Today, us Merchandising/Marketing students took a trip to the GUCCI Headquarters, located in Scandicci, just outside of Florence. In this particular building, there are 1,200 employees. Despite the pouring rain, we were all wide-eyed and excited to see the secrets held inside of this huge designer facility. Upon arrival, we received guest passes with our names on them to be worn around our necks.

We were greeted warmly by a girl who was not much older than us students. She studies part time in Milan and works full time as an assistant to the Production Manager for Gucci in Scandicci. She gave us a tour of each department of the facility. Here, they develop products and create all of the prototypes which are then sent out to 60 different factories who produce and assemble the goods. We were shown an archive of every textile used for their accessories. Every kind of leather (crocodile, python, Louisiana alligator, ostrich) with every type of finish imaginable. I personally loved the black “rubberized” leathers. The things I’d do for a motorcycle jacket of this material! We saw furs of all forms and colors, synthetic materials, sheet-thin deer-skin, and more. The artisans showed us how they cut the leathers, using only the most flawless parts of the leather and using the less-nice parts for finishing touches and small goods. They source from the best tanneries located in Florence. Everything is hand cut using a very tiny, special cutting knife that’s sharpened before every use. Going through the workshop, we saw tons of skilled workers, each working on a different Gucci product, mainly handbags. There is only one man who makes the customized travelling trunks. They take about a month to make each, and sell for an unimaginable amount. You can take your pick from buying a new house, or a hand-made Gucci trunk. Some recent clients mentioned were Rihanna and John Travolta (who apparently uses his two trunks as coffee tables). They can be made with any textile of your choice, and are finished with luxurious hardware, usually gold. Lastly, we were taken to “the bamboo room.” This is where they finish, heat and reform stalks of bamboo for their famous “bamboo bag”. The bamboo is imported from China, and only the roots are used because they are strong and not hollow like the plant itself.

Walking through the halls of Gucci’s headquarters is an overwhelming feeling. We all know gucci, and the quality that is associated with it. Some of us know the crazy story of the Gucci family (Guccio’s vision, the rebellion of his grandchildren, Maurizio’s assassination). Gucci represents a powerhouse of a family, their struggles, and their triumphs. Along the walls are black and white photographs from the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s, showing family members, celebrities, and handsome people wearing Gucci. The lights inside were bright and everything sparkling clean. I hope to someday work at a place like this.

The next time you see a Gucci bag, consider the amount of time and effort that goes into making it. Know that it passes through this facility in Scandicci, and is, in every aspect, a luxury item!