Sunday, July 19, 2009
Ciao from Firenze!!!!Nick Verreos and the Miami University of Ohio Summer Program Students--flanked by Director, Dr. Mark Bernheim (in purple polo and ivory cargo pants) I am finally getting my (blog) house in order and getting into the "swing" of things now that I am back from my travels. I will start with my extra special "Speaking Engagement" that I was invited to be a part of in the most culturally vibrant city of Florence Italy. I was invited to come and speak to a group of Journalism Students who were part of the Miami University of Ohio "Summer School in Italy Program".Il Porcellino and il Designer: Nick Verreos rubs "Il Porcellino's" snout (it is said that if you do, you are sure to return to Florence) After a scenically beautiful train ride on the TGV from Paris to Florence (more on that in another post), David (of course, he came with me) and I arrived in this city of Renaissance treasures ready for my engagement. Of course, we immediately began walking through the streets of Florence and headed directly to the iconic Duomo. The Duomo by Night, Florence Italy The city was steaming with people. It was a hot summer weekday and it seemed just about every tourist in Europe was in Florence! Especially Americans; that's all we could hear. Even though I was there as part of a College "Europe Summer Program", I forget that Florence is such a yearly destination for American students--as well as their families. It was Cancun--in the middle of Italy--and with a heck of a lot more culture (and fabulous leather bags!).I've Arrived! Nick Verreos arrives at the Polimoda Institute I was excited to meet my hosts, the affable (and rather stylish) Dr. Mark Bernheim, the enchanting Journalism Professor, Annie Blair and their Miami University of Ohio students. They were nothing but gracious, excited and effusive in their immediate welcome to David and I. The following day, after settling into my Florence hotel, and a few Caprese salads later, we got right down to "business". Our first stop was a very special invitation to the Polimoda International Institute of Fashion Design and Marketing, one of Europe's top fashion institutions of higher learning.Ciao Bello: Nick Verreos with trusty guide--and Miami University Florence Summer Program local man-about-town, Alessandro Along with our trusty guide, the very charming Alessandro ( in "man-pris" and Puma sneakers of course!), we headed to the former Villa belonging to the Strozzi family, which now houses the Polimoda headquarters. Is It a Museum? A View from Polimoda's gorgeous Library We were treated to a wonderful lecture on fashion branding and marketing plus an introduction to the school and its programs. We even got to visit its fabulous library, with frescoes on the ceiling that rivaled a Medici Palace. I even met several Polimoda students who, by chance recognized me and were fans of me and Project Runway (I know, even in Florence Italy!).Polimoda Alta Moda: Nick Verreos poses with Polimoda student creations (all in denim) flanking the lobby/entrance of Polimoda Institute, Florence Italy Afterwards, we headed back to the home of the Miami University of Ohio Florence Campus, where I was to give my lecture. I spoke to the students about my foray into fashion and how it became my life and my love. We also covered topics including marketing, "new journalism" (blogging) and of course some Project Runway dish (which of course they loved--"How was Heidi?" they kept asking). A View of the Ponte Vecchio, Florence Italy After the requisite Italian "siesta", we all then met up for a sumptuous Florentine dinner at the elegantly appointed Golden View Open Bar Restaurant by the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio, where I devoured what was simply the most delicious truffle oil ravioli I have ever had. View From the Uffizi Gallery Cafe: The Ponte Vecchio Tower Besides the lectures, the Polimoda "tour" and my speaking engagement, David and I got to do the requisite museum visits and sightseeing, including the famed Uffizi (make your reservations online prior to going!) and the expansive Palazzo Pitti. The Pitti Palace was of course, the residence of the Medici's, but one thing I didn't know was that it was also the location of Italian Couturier Valentino's first ever runway show! Oh, and I also even bought a bag! When in Florence....you got to do some shopping.Valentino's First Runway Show: Was here, at the Pitti Palace The Miami University students were some of the nicest group of students I have ever met--Along with Dr. Bernheim, all of them, made me feel right at home and as if I was a long-time friend visiting for the Summer. All of them genuinely approached me at the end and thanked me for coming and for giving them a little bit of "home" and of course, bringing a little bit of Project Runway and US pop culture to their lives. Miami University Group Shot, Polimoda Institute, Florence Italy As part of their Journalism curriculum, each student was required to start a blog while they are in Florence (I know--How great is that?) Click HERE and HERE for a few of the students blog entries on the day we spent together. They are so sweet to say such nice things....I was clutching my pearls!!!!!