(2)FIT in Florence | Page 2

FIT in Florence

March 30, 2016
by May
1 Comment

My Internship Experience Abroad

Me at FLO Concept Store.

Me at FLO Concept Store.

One of the main reasons why I decided to study abroad in Italy is to gain international exposure in fashion. So, when I learned that there was an opportunity to do a credit-bearing fashion internship during my time in Italy, I went for it. There were three different local businesses in Florence, Italy, looking for interns from the Fashion Business Management Program at Polimoda. Prior to applying for the internships, I visited each place to do research about their businesses. I went on interviews for all, but felt the strongest connection with FLO Concept Store after interviewing with the store’s Vice President, Serena Asso, who explained to me the values of the organization. I sent a thank-you email following up the interview, hoping it was culturally appropriate, and was offered an internship at the store.

FLO Concept Store is unlike any place at which I have ever worked or interned before. It is the first example of a non-profit, social-commercial retail business in Florence that nurtures young Italian designers while providing work opportunities for people with mental or physical disabilities. The products the store carries are made with the very finest or recycled materials and are produced in a small-scale, ethical production by young designers in Italy; 90% of them being sourced from local artisans in Tuscany. This ensures that the pieces are creative, unique and 100% Made In Italy. Currently, the store carries women’s ready-to-wear, women’s accessories, childrenswear and small lifestyle products such as Libri Muti, ash-trays and decorations. Its target customers are fashion-conscious women looking to add a special piece to their wardrobe, mothers looking for safe, organic and cozy clothing for their babies, and tourists looking for one-of-a-kind gift/clothing made by Italian artisans. The store’s interior is small but colorful and fun. From the hanging racks to the wallpaper, everything in the store has a character and coziness to them.

Hanging racks inspired by bed frames.

Hanging racks inspired by bed frames.

My personal favorite shirt at FLO!

My personal favorite shirt at FLO!

Libri Muti, which translates to "Mute Books" in Italian, are inspired by forbidden books of the revolutionary period in the history. They reinterpret classical titles, mixing traditional printing and binding technique together with a fresh spirit, added by the hand-colored edges.

Libri Muti, which translates to “Mute Books” in Italian, are inspired forbidden books of the revolutionary period in history. They have blank pages and their covers reinterpret classical titles. These books are made in Florence, mixing traditional printing and binding technique together with a fresh spirit, added by the hand-colored edges.

While I am absolutely in love with FLO’s products and the interior design, my favorite thing about the store is its staff. As mentioned, FLO hires people with disabilities and develops them to enter today’s workforce by training them to work in high-level customer service and store management. This creates a work environment that is gentle, supportive and patient. While each of us has our own personality, everyone has mutual respect for each other and is all working towards the same goal which is to advocate FLO’s mission of connecting fashion with social responsibility without compromising tasteful style. I am constantly inspired by working alongside the FLO team!

And since FLO is a small business, everyone’s hands are on deck with all the tasks and there are many opportunities to learn and to initiate projects/ideas. As the store’s intern, I am challenged every day by my supervisor, Elisabetta Renzoni, who assigns me a great variety of tasks and provides constructive feedback on the results. One day I would be taking pictures of the new inventory and populating spreadsheets with them, the next I would be working on the visual merchandising of the store or assisting Elisabetta during buying trips. No day is ever the same – something exciting and challenging is always going on! Since Elisabetta speaks English very well (on top of Italian and French!) I have been spoiled and have not had any issue communicating. However, I am encouraged to learn and speak Italian by observing/assisting on the sales floor and exchanging new words with my Italian co-workers who are always willing to help! FLO is also cooperative with scheduling which really helps me manage my time between school, the internship and extracurricular activities.

With my supervisor Elisabetta Renzoni who is the President of FLO Concept Store.

With my supervisor Elisabetta Renzoni who is the President of FLO Concept Store.

I am grateful for this internship opportunity at FLO Concept Store. It has shown me a different way of running a fashion business and the importance of putting people before profits. I am inspired by the products and the people I work with, and I plan to consider everything I am learning at the store when I start my own social-commercial business one day. I highly encourage students to apply for an internship during their time abroad. Not only will you gain a different perspective of the industry from interning in a foreign country, but also learn the work environment and customs of the country and build international contacts.

I hope this post has given you some insight about doing an internship abroad. Feel free to ask if you have any question! And, if you haven’t been to FLO Concept Store already, be sure to stop by! It is an absolute gem sitting on the banks of the Arno River, a few doors down the Rivalta Cafe. Here’s the address: Lungarno Corsini 30/3/R
50123 Florence
, Italy.

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March 25, 2016
by Stephanie
0 comments

Gluten Free in Firenze

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Italy is the capital of mouthwatering pizza, pasta, and pastries. Unfortunately I have Celiac disease which means, not by choice, but out of necessity I can’t eat gluten. I always feared that traveling would be a little more difficult for me when I was younger because of my food intolerance. However, it is becoming more and more common all over the world. Something that still amazes me a little because it seemed like my family was the only ones for awhile. I have been able to find great treats throughout all the countries I have been to. I am currently writing from Prague as I am traveling for spring break and although the language here is something that I don’t understand in the slightest, I can find things everywhere. There are delicious treats for those of us in all countries.

However, to my surprise Italy has continued to maintain the title of the easiest. In every city that I go to, it is a non issue there is always something delicious for me to try. Part of the reason why it is so easy is because there is the, Associazione Italiana Celiachia. During last semester I happened upon a restaurant guide published by them that has lists and address of different places throughout all of Italy.

Celiac association logo. When in doubt look for this logo.

Celiac association logo. When in doubt look for this logo.

Some of my favorites are, Ciro and Sons, in between Santa Maria Novella Church and San Lorenzo Church. Lasagna, garlic bread, and banana caramel cheesecake for dessert. Enough said. Okay one more thing said, they have great pizza too. Another one is, Mr. Pizza. They have several locations throughout Florence. My friends and I discovered that they deliver, it is a real dangerous game changer now. It’s rather inexpensive and so easy that is very tempting on busy homework nights. Da Garibardi is close to the central market and they are the only one that I have found Tiramisu at, it’s fantastic!

Photo from Ciro and Son's website

Photo from Ciro and Son’s website

Now, when studying abroad I don’t expect you to eat out every day, that’s not needed. I cook a lot, it saves a lot of money. At all grocery stores there is some array of pasta, bread, cookies, crackers, frozen meals, etc. It just depends which one you go to. The large COOP that is outside of the city has the greatest selection, it is also the largest grocery store that I know of. It is along the tram line towards the design lab, so those of you design students, you take the short trip every week just past the grocery store to the design lab. Speaking of the design lab, there is a cafe in it and the owners are great, they serve fantastic lunches for very reasonable prices. When they first opened I asked them if they had anything I could eat and unfortunately they did not. The next week there was gluten free pasta available. It makes for a quick and delicious lunch.

The greatest discovery for us Celiacs is by far, Starbene. This is a bakery on Via Dineri just past the Palazzo Vecchio. It is an entire gluten free bakery I might add. Complete with croissants, eclairs, sandwiches, bread for sale, and a selection of pastas and snacks that you can stock up on. The owners are very sweet and the food is fantastic. This is by far my favorite mid-week treat. A calzone and something to satisfy my sweet tooth. 

Photo courtesy of Starbene

Photo courtesy of Starbene

So fear not those of you with dietary restrictions. It is possible to eat delicious, non-cardboard tasting food all around the world. Buon appetito!

March 14, 2016
by Rose
2 Comments

When in Rome…

This past weekend, I experienced my last academic trip of the year: an overnight visit to Rome. We were graced with beautiful weather for the journey and, even though we were only there for two days, we got to experience so much and were given a generous amount of free time so that everyone could pursue their individual interests and go on their own to places like the Spanish Steps, Vatican City, Trevi Fountain, or even just wander around the city. Of course, after walking so much each day and tiring out our bodies, we rewarded ourselves with lots of gelato – if you’re ever in Rome, go to “Fiocco di Neve”, a wonderful gelateria that is right by the Pantheon and was recommended to us by a local!

Gelato and a puppy ... AKA the best moment of my life.

The best moment of my life.

We arrived in Rome Saturday morning and Professor DiGiugno gave us a historic walking tour during which we saw many of the most famous sights that Rome had to offer: we went inside of San Pietro in Vincoli (where we got to see Michelangelo’s “Moses” statue), the Colosseum, and the Pantheon. Rome is an amazing place because it seems like a regular Italian city until you turn a corner and stumble upon a street lined with massive ruins that have been standing there for two thousand years!

The Colosseum, in all it's glory.

The Colosseum, in all of its glory.

Inside of the Pantheon (note the coffers in the concrete dome)!

Inside of the Pantheon (note the coffers in the concrete dome)!

After the walking tour, we went to the Boncompagni Ludovisi Decorative Art Museum in which there was an exhibit on fashion from the 1950’s and 60’s and this was incredibly interesting because we got to see original garments and illustrations from the Italian fashion houses that we had learned about in class this year, such as Sorelle Fontana and Roberto Capucci. After this museum visit, we were free to go off on our own and I went to see the Valentino Headquarters – walking down the Spanish Steps to get there – and visited to some embroidery and fabric stores with my friends. No matter where we go in Europe, we always end up in places related to our major! It had been a long, tiring day so, after making our way back to the hotel and eating a quick dinner, it was time for some well deserved sleep so that we could be well rested for the next day.

Neville, Typhani, and Olga enjoying their gelato.

Neville, Typhani, and Olga enjoying their gelato.

On our second, and last, day in Rome we saw an exhibit celebrating the 150th birthday of Toulouse Lautrec at the Ara Pacis Museum, which I loved because he is one of my favorite artists and this museum had an extensive group of his original lithographs and posters on display. After this, we had a guided store visit at Louis Vuitton where we were greeted with great kindness and enthusiasm from our tour guides and I learned much more about the brand than I had known before. We were then given free time until we were to leave Rome that evening and my friends and I wandered through the streets, passing by the Trevi Fountain to make a wish, and made our way to the Palatine Hill. Exploring the ruins here was possibly my favorite part of the entire trip because it was so peaceful and calming to just walk through scraps of what were once grand buildings that have now deteriorated as nature has taken its course.

A magical encounter at the Palatine Hill.

A magical encounter at the Palatine Hill.

It is incredible that an extremely powerful empire once thrived in the exact area that we can casually walk around in today and that we now just see hints of what was once was. This academic trip helped us to realize the importance of history and how the ruins of old civilizations give us insight into why we must appreciate and not forget the past. Rome is a magical place with so much to see and I thoroughly enjoyed our weekend trip there; maybe I’ll go back someday to explore some more and see everything that I couldn’t during these past two days!

Ana and Paige strolling along the streets of Rome.

Ana and Paige strolling along the streets of Rome.