It's been one week living in the beautiful city of Florence and it’s beginning to feel like home. I am staying in an apartment with 3 other girls from Australia and we are located very close to the city centre so it's an easy walk to the Duomo and our university - Instituto Europeo di Design.

Girls from my apartment

Classes began on Monday and we were introduced to the brand that we would be creating an event for as our final project - BISBAG. BISBIG is a company creating leather bags and accessories from repurposed leather off cuts. The Tuscany region in Italy is known for its’ high quality leather production and is where big brands such as Gucci and Celine produce their leather bags. Because BISBAG recycles leather off cuts, each bag they make is a unique design and shape depending on what leather they can source. I think BISBAG’s philosophy and eco-friendly practices are really interesting and appear to give them a unique position in the market. Our final assessment is to create an event and communication plan that encompasses and showcase what their brand is all about. The professors are all industry professionals and have told us many interesting stories about problems they've faced when creating events - such as having to source pink toilet paper for one event.

We have had plenty of time to explore the city centre and I can say that I am already in love. From discovering our favourite Panini shop to visiting the local gelataria almost every night, we’re really beginning to feel like locals. And then there are the markets! Mercato Centrale is where Florence's fresh food markets are, and you can find anything from fruit to meat to locally sourced caramelised balsamic. Yum! The upstairs area of the market is home to small take away shops ranging from pasta and pizza to vegan burgers and fishmongers.

On our first weekend with free time, we decided to take a quick trip to Milan for two days. Milan is well known for fashion and shopping - and it was easy to see why when we arrived! Despite the 35 degree heat, everyone was dressed stylishly and the city centre was filled with shops from the high end brands such as Louis Vuitton and Prada to the more fast fashion chains such as Zara, H&M and Bershka.

Milan duomo on the roof

Milan is also famous for its’ sky high Duomo. We decided to pay the extra money and have access to the top of the Duomo - and buoy, was it worth it! We were able to walk around the roof of the Duomo and have fantastic panoramic views over the city. I have climbed many churches and bell towers in Europe and I think Milan’s Duomo was one of the most impressive rooftops I have seen to date. The architecture was breathtaking and we spent almost an hour on the roof snapping photos and taking in the view. We decided to stay the night in order to have enough time to explore the city. With advice from a local, we stayed in the Navigli area which is home to hundreds of restaurants, cafes and bars and is only a 10 minute tram ride away from the centre of the city and the Duomo.

Milan duomo

The day after arriving back from Milan we went to the Barberino Outlet Mall which is located 30 minutes drive from Florence. Italian bag brand Coccinelle caught our eyes and we ended up spending most of our budget on their beautiful leather bags, wallets and pouches. It was a weekend well spent!

The first week in Florence has been full of shopping, eating, studying and new experiences with all the AIM Overseas students. I hope the next week will be full of as much adventure and maybe just as much gelato!