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December 9, 2012 thesundaytimes

James Ferragamo of the famous leather house is charmed by his own hometown in Italy
Huang Huifen

Mr James Ferragamo (left) likes to imagine his late grandfather, shoe maestro Salvatore Ferragamo, walking along the streets in Florence’s historical centre.


ho: Mr James Ferragamo, 41, women’s leather product director of Salvatore Ferragamo. He was in Singapore recently to showcase the Autumn/Winter 2012 collection. He lives in Florence with his wife and three children. Favourite city: Florence, Italy Why: It is a magical place. I am always amazed at how my grandfather (the late Italian shoe maestro Salvatore Ferragamo) had walked the same streets in the historical centre as I am doing now – but probably with fewer tourists. But I love the combination of locals and tourists because I get to meet new and nice people travelling in the city every day. A great thing about Florence is that we have four seasons where winters are cold and summers are hot. And we get all sorts of weather in between. Must-see cultural sites I recommend the Stibbert Museum (Via Federigo Stibbert 26, www.museostibbert.it, admission: ¤6 or S$9.50), a house museum founded by Frederick Stibbert, a Florence-born Englishman and descendant of a commander-in-chief of the British East India Company in Bengal. He spent his life collecting artefacts and antiques ranging from armour to paintings. Today, the museum has a collection of over 36,000 items and is known for its extensive armour collection from Europe, Japan and the Islamic world. Art and fashion aficionados can visit Villa Bardini (Villa Bardini 2, Costa San Giorgio, www.bardinipeyron.it), home to the Roberto Capucci Foundation Museum (www.fondazionerobertocapucci.com). It is a visually arresting exhibit of the Italian fashion designer’s works. Also stroll in the villa’s sprawling gardens. Another place I would recommend is the Boboli Gardens of the Pitti Palace (Piazza Pitti 1, www.giardinodiboboli.it, admission: ¤6), a 16th-century-style Italian garden with sculptures dating back to the ancient Roman times. For Ferragamo fans, there is the Museo Salvatare Ferragamo (Palazzo Spini Feroni, Piazza Santa Trinita 5R, tel: +39-055-3562-455/417/456, www.museoferragamo.it/en/, admission: ¤5, reserve tickets online). It houses a treasure trove of shoe collections showcasing my grandfather’s over-three-decade-long career. The museum also holds themed biennial exhibitions based on the museum’s archives of more than 10,000 shoe models. Currently, the museum is holding an exhibition till Jan 28 on Marilyn Monroe, a loyal client of my grandfather’s. The exhibition, to mark Monroe’s 50th death anniversary, showcases her extensive collection of Ferragamo pumps, as well as her dresses and photographs.


Florence is magic
Favourite breakfast spot offers amazing views of the iconic Ponte For brunch, I like to head to the Four Vecchio mediaeval archbridge over the Seasons Hotel Firenze (Borgo Pinti 99, tel: river Arno. Order its platter of raw and +39-055-2626-1, www.fourseasons.com/ grilled fish such as sea bass, yellowfin tuna florence/). The breakfast spread includes a and salmon, which starts from ¤17. variety of pastries, cheeses, cold meat and If you want a more romantic dinner, try smoked fish. It Borgo San Jacois a pleasure to po in Hotel LunJames Ferragamo’s dine there and garno (Borgo San look out onto Jacopo 62R, tel: the beautiful +39-055-281-661, garden. www.lungarnoFor Italian collection.com). coffee, I will head to Caffe Paszkowski (Piaz- Borgo serves excellent Tuscan and Italian za della Repubblica 31-35R, www.pasz- cuisine with a great assortment of wines. It kowski.it), a coffee institution that is more also has a nice view of the river Arno. than a century old and which has been Main courses include braised veal cheek declared a national monument. with Cognac, celery and chestnut puree, and fish stew (both ¤35) and the desserts Best dining and nightlife spots include flambe raspberry and blueberry Enjoy good food, live jazz music and tarte with vodka sorbet, and coconut white people-watching at the Golden View Open chocolate parfait with fruit sauce (both Bar restaurant (Via de Bardi 64/58R, Ponte ¤12). Vecchio, www.goldenviewopenbar.com). It For after-dinner drinks, head to Colle Bereto Cafe (Piazza Strozzi 5R, tel: +39-055-283-156, www.colleberetocafe.it) in the city centre, where many locals in the fashion and arts industry hang out. Cocktails cost around ¤10. There is also a dance club upstairs if you are in a party mood. Good place to buy leather goods I love the atmosphere of the Santo Spirito area in Oltrarno. It is where you can find artisans of leather goods here. It is a sort of Rive Gauche of Florence. Fashion events to bookmark It will be the Pitti trade fairs for sure (www.pittimmagine.com). They consist of a series of events taking place from January to September, showcasing men, women and children’s fashion and even fragrances. The events promote new collections, the newest fashion trends and up-and-coming designers and products from all over the world. During these periods, Florence morphs into a town filled with creative, goodlooking, lively and fashionable people. Everywhere you go, you will be able to find special parties, exhibitions and artworks. The fairs are open only to those in the industry, but it is still a great time to visit and observe the city even if you are not from the fashion industry. Day trips out of the city I love to go to Roccamare beach, a two-hour drive from Florence. It has a beautiful environment with stretches of white sandy beach leading to the azure sea. If you have time to go wine-tasting in the Tuscan countryside, visit Il Borro (Localita Borro 1, San Giustino Valdarno 52024, tel: +39-055-977-053, ilborro.com). The estate, which consists of a spa, resort and vineyard, is owned by my father, Salvatore Ferragamo’s chairman Ferruccio Ferragamo. It is a great escape from my hectic and social life. I grew up here and still return often to spend my weekends. hfhuang@sph.com.sg


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