Archive for June, 2011
The Braccialini house has been a name in Italian handbag design since its humble beginnings in Florence, Italy in 1954. Carla and Roberto Braccialini have built their handbag enterprise from the ground up, demonstrating their finesse in the market and intuitive creativity in handbag fashion. The Braccialini fashion house definitely defies the rules of shape, pattern, and theme that are embedded in the diverse world of handbag fashion. The Temi, Temini, and Tua lines are creations of the world of whimsy for the client who wishes to have a bag that not only represents their unique personality, but are also one of a kind. The main logo brand Braccialini exercises practicality to balance their other three brands. Braccalini bags are simplistic in nature, and are made to be the “everyday” bag you just had to have. Still a bit confused as to what this all means in terms of handbags? Below are in depth descriptions of all four Braccialini brands.
Temi: Temi bags are like nothing you have ever seen before. Each bag is made to represent an animal or object, and are therefore amazingly unique. Each bag must have a pattern cut specifically for its production. An astounding amount of craftsmanship and detail go into making every temi bag, defining them as extremely limited in number. Temi bags are the epitome of whimsy, and are for the confident woman who wishies to express her creativity and fun-loving spirit. Every year a limited amount of new temi bags go on sale in Braccalini boutiques worldwide. I’m a personal fan of the mushroom and India elephant bags!
Tua By Braccialini: The Tua (yours) line by Braccialini is a combination of practicality in terms of shape of the handbag, but also mixes in the wild creativity that Braccialini is famous for. There are multiple categories of Tua bags, ranging from normal tote bags with bright sorbet colors to women of the world themed bags that represent a woman with an iconic image from her culture. Tua bags also dabble in over-the-top colorful flower motifs, playful everyday scenes, and geometric patterns. If you are not quite sure about carrying a Temi bag, but still love the themes and uniqueness, then Tua is for you. With 15 different categories to choose from, you’ll be hard pressed to not like at least one!
Temini: The Temini line of handbags are designed in a variety of classic handbag shapes and styles. The leather used is very structured, and gives each bag beautiful lines be it hobo, crossbody, or hand-held. The structured leather however is printed with fanciful miniature images ranging from taxi cars and suns to bees and rocking-horses. Reminiscent of the Magic Circus line by Piero Guidi, these comical patterned bags are definitely for the lighthearted crowd who still appreciate quintessential handbag designs and shapes.
Braccalini: The Original label boasts of 20 categories with a plethora of designs, muted or vibrant colors, and motifs. This is the line where playfulness is understated and utility shines through. The original line consists of everyday bags with pizazz for those who admire the uncommon without being too outlandish. Muted browns, toned stripes, and vibrant palates make up the diversity of hues, while stitching techniques and detail work make each back distinctive in a subtle way. In short the Original Braccialini line is too varied to be able to go into much detail. You have to witness the perfect blend of creativity and practicality for yourself to understand how Carla Braccialini and her team of designers have managed to take the trademark whimsy of the brand and develop it for the sassy modern day woman.
Traveling outside of your own cultural comfort zone is always a daunting experience. Many who do, don’t seem to realize this until they come across cultural differences almost too extreme to bear. It goes without saying that any tourist traveling outside their own culture should not under any circumstance automatically assume that what is normal or acceptable for them will hold true with the culture that they are visiting. A few recent run-ins with American tourists have compelled me to highlight one of the biggest cultural differences between Italian and American culture: Customer Service! Now before it sounds like I’m really bearing down on Americans in particular I do want to stress that American tourists are, overall, some of the most courteous and fun-loving tourists in Italy! Now on to the exception…
First and foremost, the definition of customer service varies worldwide, but the disparity of US customer service policies and those of Italy spans a distance larger then the ocean we physically cross. The American version of “100% customer is right unless proven wrong by a terms and conditions they probably electronically agreed to” scenario is null and void in Italy. Also American customers tend to have the idea that making a big stink will tend to get them exempt from their electronic agreement, though inevitably putting themselves on the hypothetical “spit in that one’s food” company list. Yes these do exist. I’ve worked for an International travel company, and there were specific customers who where marked as code X (avoid at all costs).
My friend’s recent experience serving American clients at a car rental agency specifically addresses why these two pillars of U.S. customer service etiquette do not work in Italian culture. Customers are considered just as fallible as the workers that serve them, therefore a customer’s version of a scenario is not viewed as correct until proven wrong, but rather debatable until proven otherwise. The workers do tend to know what they are doing and are versed on the rules and regulations stipulated by their companies, bureaucratic offices notwithstanding. Therefore they are seen to be more knowledgeable about the situation at hand over the customer.
Example of how this plays out: Long story made incredibly short; tourists had rented a car which had been freshly cleaned, filled with gas, and ready to go. Now given the preparation of the car, it would have been driven around Florence for all these maintenance purposes. The clients rented the car and half way to their destination, they got a flat tire. They returned to the agency, accused the people behind the desk for purposely giving them the flat, demanded a whole refund, and refused to pay for the tire they busted. Now everybody knows that flats happen. They are horrible, but far from unheard of. Due to the no insurance contract they had signed when renting the car, they were responsible for the flat, and would be charged a fee for replacing it. Now my expected reaction to this might be unhappy and somewhat uncooperative, but not anything close to what actually happened. After hours of trying to shout their way out of the issue, they finally pulled the red card. What is the red card, you ask? It is the “You can’t treat me this way, I am from the United States” response. This response has absolutely no meaning, because your nationality has no bearing on them enforcing their rules and regulations. It also implies that you think you are better than the rules and everyone else who does follow them. So just about how far will this statement get you? Further back from whence you started! Clerks, waiters, and shop assistants alike will become completely non responsive, unhelpful, and all together ignore you after a blow-out like that. A calm demeanor and reasonable requests tend to be met with cooperation and helpful additional information.
Of course this is a rare occurrence. The majority of American tourists follow the Golden Rule, and it tends to lead to good experiences for both sides. Kindness and respect are universal. Americans, as I have stated, are particularly regarded as good tourists here. This may be due to their easy smiles, effusive thank yous, or the fact that apparently our accents when attempting to speak Italian are considered “cute”. On the overall we get a good rating, but just be aware that your food might not arrive all together, take-out boxes are regarded as embarrassing, and that going with the flow is your best bet, even if you don’t know what the flow exactly is!
Sit back, see the sites, drink the wine, and enjoy!
Have a cultural blunder to share, or some sound advice earned the hard way? Please share! Traveling is also a great learning experience!
Without fail the one most compelling thought that accompanies any mention of Pisa is that of the leaning tower. Iconic in is relation to great Italian architecture and beauty, the tower also boasts of an experience quite uncommon whilst walking on land. The outlying structures of the basilica and museums are also beautifully built, with a grandeur and attention to minute detail that is unmatched in many other small Italian towns. The insides of these religious buildings are also very beautiful, and are much more affordable in terms of entrance fees. The town’s river views are not as compelling as those in Florence, but its smaller piazzas, quaint shops, and colonnaded walkways definitely lend to a sense of intimacy that Florence lacks. Now I’m no expert of Pisa. In fact this was my first time in this once great maritime hub, and I found my time there to be stress free and completely enjoyable. So for all you soon to be first timers, this rendition of my day trip is for you!
We arrived fairly early from Florence’s main station to Pisa around 10:30am. Of course the first thing any tourist arriving at Pisa wants to do is see the tower. There is a map directly outside the entrance that shows the main gist of how the city is laid out and what streets you can take to get to the tower. Naturally my friend and I managed to take the wrong street halfway through the town, but we found the tower just the same. Kind of hard to miss considering it is the tallest building in the surrounding area. The view of the tower was stunning once we got to the piazza. There really are no words to describe the bizarre beauty of the tower. The actual structure is a series of marble white levels with sublime columns that culminate to a bell tower at the top. Just looking at the tower from ground level isn’t enough, though. I ventured to the ticket area, like so many before me, curious to know if you actually feel the angle of the tower when climbing up it. The answer to that question is YES! If actual experience isn’t enough, the spiral stairs within the tower are a testament to the effect of the incline. Each stair has been smoothed to a shine where millions of tourists have swayed back and forth when climbing. Going up the inclined side is sure to make well toned calves feel the burn, while going down the other side makes you feel like you are slipping down while climbing upward! It is a very “Alice down the rabbit-hole” type feeling that you don’t get used to the whole time you are in the tower. Once at the very top, it is plain to see how the perfect circle of the tower is warped, making it look more like an oval. Not only is this a great opportunity for photos of the whole of Pisa, but it also really allows you to appreciate how Italian architecture, even when done incorrectly, still possesses an indescribable mystical beauty.
Now before you become too focused on the main attraction I must say that there are many other things to enjoy about Pisa. The main drag is lined by an assortment of ice cream colored buildings with columns and airy small restaurants. Therefore I very much encourage tourist to take the time to veer away from the cluster of restaurants that are directly in the vicinity of the tower. Not only do those restaurants have an inflated table charge, they also tend to offer substandard food for top dollar. My friend and I walked back the way we came so as to avoid the main road near the tower. We didn’t have to walk far before we stumbled upon Piazza dei Cavelieri (Piazza of the Knights). It is a wide oval shaped piazza with a large black and white mosaic etched building as its center of importance. There are also many such buildings in Florence, but this is a much less stressful photo opp. From there we ambled back onto the main drag for a bit before spotting a small alley to the right with a Heineken sign. Normally one might think this to be a tourist spot, but many such side alley pubs boast a regular local clientele, good food, and decent prices. We were not disappointed! I heard the subtle tones of the Pisan accent upon approaching the establishment, which only encouraged my idea that is was the place to stop for our lunch. The prices were like any I would find in my normal hangouts in Florence, and the place emitted a pizza doughy smell that is trademark to a good eating. We ordered a small foccacia, a pizza with vegetable topping, a soft drink and water for a decent total of 14 euro. We meandered away fat, happy, and refreshed. A quick jaunt down the shopping streets lead us straight back to the Pisa train station. Unfortunately it was a scorching day, and the sun was just relentless, so we were happy to end our time sitting in the shade at the station, enjoying a cafe zero (Italy’s ready-made version of a coffee frappe).
So quick wrap-up of things to take away from this post:
1. Pisa is a super easy city to get around in, so be a little adventurous!
2. Going into the tower is a bit expensive (15 euro), but very worth the experience. When will you ever be in Pisa again?
3. Go off the beaten path a little and find a small quaint restaurant with shady outside seating. Your taste buds and wallet will thank you.
4. Sit and enjoy the atmosphere! Don’t rush yourself around trying to fill every minute of your time with something. That is what Florence tends to be for!
Been to Pisa? Please share any advise or experiences you had! Still in anticipation for your trip and have a question? Leave me a comment and I will do my best to answer it!
It is hard to imagine that any fan of distressed leather has yet to hear about or see the beautiful creations of Marco Campomaggi. Many designers of distressed leather don’t quite seem to be able to capture the art of truly aging leather, and producing bags that compliment that style. Campomaggi, however, has not only seemed to have mastered the art, but as also become a contender in bag design as well. Pair the two and you’ve got yourself a designer on the rise!
The majority of Campomaggi’s bags have a certain rustic masculine look, and while many women admire his work, they tend to be less inclined to invest in one of his works of art. Campomaggi is due to change all that with his new 2011 collection. Many bags in his new collection has a distinct feminine air, which compliments more than contrasts with the antiqued rustic leather. Campomaggi’s use of woven leather, softer lines, and strategically placed studs has added an element of whimsy that is undeniably attractive.
On our showcase today are four new Campomaggi bags that cover a variety of tastes. An antiqued camouflage dyed backpack with a rugged edge definitely appeals to the adventurer at heart. The leather used for this bag is particularly soft, giving it a worn slouchy air. Big on space, and with many addition pockets, this backpack is made to be a workhorse.
The camo motif also comes in a more briefcase based style. This bag is for all those seeking the comfort and utility of a crossbody, shape for a computer or documents, with a unique youthful appearance.
The must stunning in my opinion is our new version of a doctor’s bag. This distressed leather bag is shaped like an old style doctor’s bag with an opening to match. The real charm, however, is in the inside. The lining boasts all the accouterments of a handbag with the zip pocket, cell pocket, and added details. This lovely bag comes in a dark brown or cognac.
Lastly is Campomaggi’s twist of a briefcase satchel. This bag has all the dimensions of a briefcase, but with all the casual comfort of a satchel. The large flap can be adjusted for three differently lengths to accommodate whatever you want to carry. The buckle strap can also be removed to turn the bag into more of a briefcase than a satchel. The inside is divided by a leather/cloth sip pouch, allowing for valuables to be stashed away, and all other items to be organized as necessary.
You can check these bags out on our Facebook page for more details. They will go live on our website early next week! Also stay tuned for a post about Campomaggi’s sister company Caterina Lucchi, the feminine version of distressed leather handbags!
The Corno Rosso and Fortunata are breaking news for Pierotucci in Florence Italy. This delicious new designer leather bag is making a splash in this hot Italian Summer and we are excited about it.
Check out our press:
The thought of staying in doors on these beautiful summer days to cook a meal that is likely to overheat you is not a fun concept. The developer of those 30-min meal recipes had a sure hitter on their hands when it comes to sticky summer months. The quick solution might be to crank up the AC, but here in Italy that isn’t really an option. Not only do most apartments and houses not have central heating and cooling, but electricity is fairly expensive making conservation key. So instead of polarizing the cultural differences, I’ve decided to mix them. Below is a quick dinner idea that I compiled from the Better Homes and Gardens website. Minimal time in the kitchen, less overheating, and makes great leftovers!
Fast Chicken and Rice: This 10 min chicken and rice recipe has some flavors that definitely liven up the traditional concept. Stir-fry sauce, almonds, peas, and peanuts add loads of taste and crunch. It is hard to find ready made rice pouches like those sold in the U.S., so Italians beware! you will have to add on an additional 15 min for the time it takes to boil the rice. Tasty, quick, and total frig friendly.
No Recipe Dessert Nachos: There may not be a recipe, but there is a slight rubric. Use tortillas, or for us in Italy, find the thinest kind of piadina. These tend to be the refrigerated type. From there is just a matter of coating the tortillas with melted butter on one side, then sprinkling cinnamon and sugar over the butter. Bake till crispy. Then chose the types of fruit, nuts, and yogurt you want to top them off with.
And to drink? White Wine Sangria: I know most sangria lovers out there would probably be appalled by this considering sangria is a traditional red wine drink, however I think the white would ties together the dinner and dessert recipe better than the red. My only 2 cents of advice on this one: instead of using 2 trays of cubes, use one, and freeze the fruit before adding it in with the alcohol mix. The frozen fruit will work like ice cubes, but without the unwanted watering down effect.
This easy meal suggestion is simple to follow and time conscious. No long hours slow cooking chicken, or waiting for baked goods to finish before opening the oven and flooding your kitchen with unwanted heat. They are also ingredient easy. All ingredients listed can be found rather effortlessly in Italy making fusion food less of a hassle for all us expats! Buon Appetito!
Longchamp’s Le Pilage has come to dominate the area of waterproof bags, which have made them an optimal choice for everyday. Their reign of power, however, is slowly ebbing in the light of Gherardini’s rise. Both bags have used a nylon fabric developed for parachute production, making them durable, lightweight, and semi-waterproof. Here, however, is where the real deviation between the brands begins!
Gherardini, due to form and style, reevaluated the change in technologies and decided to switch their nylon based GHE softy production which pre-dates Longchamp, to a polyester base instead. The new polyester based bags were more lightweight and durable than the previous nylon, but that is not where the changes stop. Gherardini also updated the type of polyurethane coating they used to make the bags waterproof and light/rubbing resistant. Their new type of HHR (high hydrolysis resistant) polyurethane coating gives each bag multiple layers of super protection.
So what does this all mean for your traveling needs? It proves that rain or shine Gherardini handbags and travel suitcases are a great investment in the cost-per-use sense. Their long “lifespan” coupled with great individualizing features such as a plethora of different color combinations, leather accents, and practical shapes makes choosing a new travel bag a cinch!
Many visitors to our website have come to find out that we do not have modeling photos of any of our bags. Of course we list measurements of height, width, and depth, but unless you are ready and willing to get the measuring tape out, this information doesn’t help you much. We are also backlogged on updating product photos, so modeling pictures are at the bottom of our to-do list. Now I am certainly not the best at imagining how things will look on me just by measurements alone, though I applaud all of you who can. This is why I wanted to make a post with modeling photos for all those like me who need actual reference to how the bag compares to body size, how it hangs, and the over all effect. I have chosen 5 of our most popular bags from the Toscanella collection to model. For reference, I am 5′ 4″ (165cm), and while I don’t specifically wish to divulge my weight, lets just say I’m a dollar even. Also if you see a bag on our site and would like for me to model it, please leave a comment on which bag it is and I will accommodate!
1# Most Popular Simple Tote: This simple square tote is perfect for carrying just about anything. It’s square shape is great for porting around document folders or painting supplies. Also a great carry-on bag for air travel due to easy access magnetic snap and small cloth bag that accompanies the tote. No more needing to dig out the make-up when going through security! It is also lightweight due to its simplicity, and fits nicely under the arm.
2# Small Crossbody Purse: This is a personal favorite of mine! This small crossbody is meant to carry only the necessities. It’s clean lines and flap give it a charming country look. It’s like the original satchel bag only in mini. This is great for busy days when you need your hands free, or if you want to feel less weighed down. An essential bag for trips!
3# Hand-held or Strap Box Bag: This bag touts structure. No slouching here! the hand straps don’t allow for shoulder usage, so it comes with a cotton adjustable strap for the days you just want to be hands free. It won’t be easy to lose things in this bad due to its structure. It has a nice wide base and stiff sides, making it a great for holding in the crook of your elbow.
4# A Business Casual Beauty: I haven’t come across many briefcases that have a feminine air, but this shoulder brief tote definitely fits the bill. The wide base and tapered top make it great for carrying around all you need to for a standard work day without the bag becoming too bulky. A cotton adjustable strap is included. This bag really dresses up a casual outfit as well. A nice pair of jeans and button up top paired with this bag exudes cool sophistication.
5# Playful Structured Hobo: Most hobo styles we see now-a-days are always slouchy. I tend to also be a fan of slouchy hobos, but find it frustrating to no end when I have a hard time finding what I am digging for. This hobo is great in the sense that it fits great over the shoulder, has a nice classic shape, and doesn’t slouch. Blind digging won’t be an issue with this bag. The opening is tailored to fit the underarm, using the arm as security closure as well. This bag also comes in a small and large size. I am sporting the smaller version.
And there you have it! Our 5 most popular Toscanella bags finally put into perspective. I once again encourage all of you to leave a comment if you see a bag on our website and want me to model it.
Lately it has been nothing but sunny skies and record heat for all those living and visiting Florence. I must have seen at least a dozen children with gelato smeared happy faces this past week alone. So naturally, in accordance with all things in life, the goodness of fantastic weather was cut off. Italian meteorologists are notorious for being wrong about the weather, but yesterday was just bizarre!
My sympathies go out to all those who were happily enjoying Florence’s spring wine tasting event in Piazza Pitti. Gusty winds, massive rainfall, and hail started to pelt the poor unsuspecting tourists and residents trying to enjoy the fruits of the Tuscan landscape! I have to say, however, that I did attend the wine tasting on Friday, and found it to be very a enjoyable experience! There were 25 booths with various types of wine ranging from dry reds, fruity whites, and complete organic versions. I am a particular fan of prosecco, and loved the cool bubbly-ness on that rather muggy day. Better than previous fests in terms of overall price vs tasting, the spring wine fest boasted a 10 tastings for 10 euro ratio, and you got to keep the specially produced wine glass! There were also generous vineyard stalls willing to give a healthy tot of wine without stamping the card.
Our complementary wine glasses were accompanied by a hanging pocket made out of recycled material. This way all fest goers could enjoy hands free conversation, while their wine glasses were strategically nestled in the pockets. We all looked like some cult of wine glass worshipers, but for once this was one club worth participating in! I encourage all tourists that have Florence in their near futures to visit The Florentine website, and Insiders Abroad forum page for information on fun goings on during your stay!
Winter is gone, spring is fading, and summer is finally peaking her head around the corner! Now the best part of the summer season is always debatable, but I think just about everyone can agree that there is nothing better than enjoying the muggy summer days and nights at a music, film, or food festival. That is why I have taken this stormy Sunday in Florence to compiled a list of festivals in various parts of the U.S. during the month of June. There were so many that I have only listed about half I found. My inspiration comes from my own hometown’s 18th annual Cruise-in and Street Dance: Rockville, IN! Scroll below for more fun, bizarre, and tantalizing festivals nationwide!
Absolut Chalk Street Painting Festival: Pasadena, CA Absolut Vodka teams up with the Light-Bringer Project to bring 400 of the world’s best chalk painters to cover up 2 blocks of Pasadena.
AIA Sandcastle Competition: Galveston, TX 75 super competitive teams descend on the beach of Galveston to create monstrous works of art out of good ol’ sand.
American Black Film Festival: Miami, FL The American Black Film community is coming together to inspire, educate, and network on all things pertaining to black cinema.
Beer Baron’s World of Beer Festival: Milwaukee, WI..where else! All about beer lovers congregating to taste the best the world has to offer in beer.
Blue Ridge Barbeque and Music Festival: Tyron, NC One of America’s most prestigious bbq competitions, complete with kid activities and craft booths
Breckenridge Music Festival: Breckenridge, CO Supported by the Colorado Creative Industries Division and the National Endowment for the Arts, this music festival has tunes to appeal to all crowds.
Combine Demolition Derby: Lind, WA A demolition derby, expect with wheat combines!
Eastern Naturist Gathering: Lenox, MA One of the biggest Nude gathering in the US. People who like living in the buff come to Lenox for a week of fun, games, and education, all rated PG.
Elfego Baca Shoot: Socorro, NM A crazy somewhat life-threatening sport created in honor of Elfego Baca
Global Halloween Convergence: New Orleans, LA A gathering of Halloween fans who have decided to extend the holiday for summer recreation, including tours and seminars
Gopher Count: Viola, MN Seeped in history this small town in Minnesota pays a bounty for all those who bring in gopher digits, owing back the large ruinous gopher population that use to plague settlers.
Judy Garland Festival: Grand Rapids, MN Rather self-explanatory, a fan convention for the late Judy Garland
Juneteenth: All Areas Celebrated largely by the African-American community in remembrance of the day slaves in Texas learned of their freedom due to the Emancipation Proclamation
King Kamehemeha Hula Competition: Honolulu, HI Hawaiian Heritage puts on a Hula competition celebrating its cultural dance.
Kutztown Folk Festival: Kutztown, PA Lasts a little over a week and offers entertainment, crafts, food, and fun all theme in Dutch folk traditions.
Las Vegas International Chess Festival: Las Vegas, NV An international chess tournament with a hefty prize..here’s to hoping it’s not gambled away!
Left Coast Live: San Jose, CA A revival movement for live music in the downtown San Jose area.
Middle of Nowhere Celebration: Ainsworth, NE The town puts of wacky events to liven up life in a prairie state town.
Milk Drinking Contest: Harvard, IL Dairyland Illinois puts on a contest with age appropriate levels to see who can drink the most milk in the time allowed
*Thanks to 2camels.com for most of the festival info!