Palazzo Tornabuoni

Palazzo Tornabuoni is s far one of the most magnificent places I have been lucky to visit during my stance in Florence. Big chandeliers, high ceilings and classic decoration make the place very inviting. The Palazzo is a restored building from the fifteen-century, what was back in that time an actual Medici residence. It is now a residence club; there are 38 apartments in total, 27 residences and 11 club residences. It took four years for the Palazzo to be restored and it shelters works of art and an incredible architecture collected from the previous owners as Alessandro Medici and the Renaissance Pope Leo XI.

During the visit we were explained how the idea of the club became successful, which is run by the Four Seasons Hotel. To become a member there’s fee to pay yearly and you acquire 3 weeks per year or you can also buy one of the residences starting at the modest price of 1.7 million dollars. There are members from all over the world, currently about 80 memberships and 11 apartment owners, a lot of them being around the age of retirement and have decided to move to the heart of Florence.

The manager also shared his story.  How in his beginnings after graduating with a degree of tourism and hospitality he was working at a front desk in a hotel in Milan and eventually made his way to Florence and was offered the position as a Manager for the Palazzo. It is refreshing to hear stories from people that are humble and start from the bottom up, it encourages us students to follow our dreams.

 

Draping Fieldtrip to Perugia

Last monday we had the awesome opportunity to leave Tuscany for a draping field trip to Perugia! The twelve of us piled into a full-size bus and traveled through Tuscany to the province of Umbria, where we made our first stop at a jersey design company Lemuria in the country side around Perugia.

We saw first hand how flats would be transformed into patterns and then from patterns into sewn garments. The coolest part for me was being able to see how cohesively each worker performed together. How no small job in the company was unimportant. From perfectly layering the fabric on the cutting machine, to creating precise patterns on the computer. If one job was done even slightly wrong, everything else after wouldn’t work. Which meant restarting and the loss of money. It was nice to see how seamlessly everyone worked together. How even though it was a company, there was a sense of family and community among the workers because of this reason.

After this we took a nice long lunch break and headed to the center of Perugia for our next stop at Brozzetti, a hand weaving laboratory in the ancient church of San Francesco Delle Donne. Here is a picture of an awesome stone bridge walkway on the way to the church.

 

The workshop was created by Giudetta Brozzetti in 1921, and with looms from 18th-20th century they produce textiles reminiscent of the Mediaeval and Renaissance tradition. Here’s a shot of the church and looms. Its crazy to think this church was built over 900 years ago and still stands. It’s also cool that it’s now one of the places that house this beautiful and dyeing craft.

Now working there was the Granddaughter of Giudetta Brozzetti. She showed us how all the different looms work, explaining what a difficult and laborious process weaving was. One large loom could take up to 12 days just to thread and setup! It also takes her two full days to weave only about one meter of fabric.

I thought the motion of the shuttle moving from right to left with the hundreds of lead needles moving up and down was super neat. Here is a shot of all the lead needles of jacquard loom threaded and ready to go.

 

Venice Biennale

 

On November 5-6th, we took an academic trip to one of the most beautiful places in Italy, Venice. In Venice, we visited one of the most prestigious contemporary art exhibitions, La Biennale, which includes the fine arts, film, architecture, music, performance, and more.

We split up into two groups when we got there, both included guided tours around the various pavilions. Our tour-guides were very insightful, as they explained the artists’ outlooks and artworks. My group started our tour in the British pavilion where we got to enjoy a delicious cup of tea on the building’s balcony. After touring around a few other pavilions, we were let to explore the grounds of the Biennale on our own.

There were artists from all over the world, from Europe, to South America, to Asia, many of which are very different from each other, however they all really captivated the essence of their countries’ traditions.

The Biennale is definitely an event to attend if you want to a universal collection of contemporary artwork. It was a good break from all the Renaissance Italian art that we’ve been seeing.

Memar Hat Millinery

Hats were a sign of status or a job, aristocracy wore the ultimate fashions and fanciest designs, it was a sign of success and wealth. It was disrespectful to walk outside of the house not wearing one, it used to be the completion of the outfit, it was almost as necessary as wearing a corset during the eighteen hundreds.

Visiting Memar Millinery was a remarkable experience, to see the entire process of different types of hats being made. The Memar Millinery is one of the last 3 factories left in Italy that has the means to have production in house. This company has a long history and prestige, as hats have been a tradition in Italy from centuries. The factory started in 1903, it is a family owned business that has been passed down from generation to generation. Memar has vendors, all over the world. They have worked with Macys, Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and many more.

The factory has kept itself going by sourcing new materials, coming up with new techniques and collaborations with high-end designers. This way not only the quality of the materials and production is something to admire but the enthusiasm and spirit of competition.

We had a tour around the millinery facilities. Witnessing the work it takes for a straw fedora to be sewn and the shaping of felt and straw hats.  Most of the raw goods come from Italian land but other sources are also used.

At last, we got to be hands on and decorated a hat of our choice.

I am a big fan of accessories but specially hats, after this visit I have learned to have a better appreciation of the craft and skills required for this labor. Memar millinery not only has years of quality and experience, but also passion and heritage.

A historical moment!

Last weekend we went to the school’s student activity group—a FASA held activity, which was a soccer game played at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. Soccer is such a big thing in Italy, so it must be fun! Especially since we are already here, we got to watch it. I’m glad that almost everybody signed up for this or they will regret for sure, because we had so much fun!!

It was not a long way by bus from Santa Maria Novella(The train station), but we had some problems figuring out which bus should we take. Let’s give a big thank you to the FASA member Rachel of being such a responsible person and help fix the problem right away.  After 15 minutes in a crowded bus, we finally got to the Stadium. Guess what’s the first word that can express my feeling when I got off the bus? PURPLE!!! Everybody wore their purple jersey for it is the symbol color of the local team Fiorentine. Big flags, scarves(must have, everybody hang it in the hand to make a purple sea during the game to cheer up the team, that scene was so amazing.), everything is purple! Wearing black and white was the symbol of the other team, Juventus which we were not rooting for. We FIT students wore all purple too, since we study in Florence and we don’t want to be kicked out of the stadium, haha just kidding.

First half of the game was ok, ball was always close to the gate but never got kicked in, people got upset and worried because Juventus already got 2 points, purple sea kept cheer up for their team. By this time I got bored and went to get hotdogs… Suddenly I heard people screaming and shouting the name of the team and the player, I nearly dropped my hotdog,haha ! That was the most fun thing ever, people got so crazy and hugged each other, sang songs, took pictures, and were running around! Because Fiorentine got one point! And then what was even more exciting was in the second half of the game, Player called Rossi kicked three balls in a row towards the end of the game! Everybody went so crazy!! I was so happy that jumped off the seat and hugged with people, if you were there, you’ll be so amazed by the atmosphere, happiness, and the cheerfulness. It was the best feeling ever!

Maybe you’ll get confused about the title, actually, after the game in the Monday afternoon, our Italian professor told us that Fiorentine hasn’t won the game for the past 15 years… Isn’t that unbelievable? So this time was really a historical moment! That’s why everybody got so happy!! We made such a right choice to go there. After this time, I love soccer even more! I think this is the spirit of sport, never give up. Fiorentine had such a long buffer period, but they did not give up, keep training, keep trying, you’ll finally see the success one day! Salute!

–Baiyang