I've always loved fashion, and when I moved to Italy over 20 years ago, I fell in love with "La Moda Italiana." I've been a loyal fan of Italian designers ever since.
My sis and I lived in Lake Como, just an hour train ride north of Milano, so we spent many days strolling the streets of Quadrilatero d'Oro, Milan's golden rectangle of streets housing some of the world's best luxury, fashion and jewelry boutiques including a few of my faves: Valentino, Bottega Veneta and Missoni.
I still have the Prada keychain I purchased there (including the gorgeous blue box it came in) and remember splurging on it with my hard-earned money from teaching English lessons! However, like the Italian food items mentioned in my Buon Appetito post, the Internet has eliminated the need to travel to Italy to treat yourself to a Prada keychain!
Like eating in Italy, I miss the people watching. Both Italian men and women always look so put together - so effortlessly chic. From the 20-something-year-old woman on the train to the 70-year-old nonna sweeping her patio, I was always in awe of how classically beautiful women looked. Looking appealing is the cultural norm in Italy. Known as "la bella figura" which literally translates as "the beautiful figure", it specifically means to dress well and make a good impression - and Italians most certainly do.
I have a few favorite purchases from my time spent surrounded by Italian beauty. One is the purse pictured above that I purchased at Il Bisonte, a small boutique in Florence known for using rugged yet sensuous vegetable-tanned leather to craft products with impeccable artisanship for over 45 years. I added a wallet to my cherished Il Bisonte collection on another trip, and those two pieces have become my go-to summer duo ever since. Over time they've naturally darkened to the richest caramel color, as promised by the saleswoman who told me they'd develop a unique patina, shaped over time by my own personality and eventually telling my own story.
I remember my sis giggling at how in awe I was of Italian style. She'd already been living there for 10 years and was used to how elegantly Italian women dressed. But for me it was all new, and I loved sitting on trains noticing every little fashionable detail. One of those details was how scarves were tied to Italian women's handbags. Lake Como is famous for its silk production, so the sleek fabric was the norm on the streets of Como and Milano, and to this day, scarves remain one of my favorite Italian ways to accessorize!
If I had to pick my favorite treasure from my time in Italy, it would be the gold bracelet I purchased from a goldsmith named Luciano in Como. Like the scarves, I noticed the gold accessories Italian women wore. Hoops, chains, bangles - always simple but often abundant - I loved it all and knew I wanted to go home with a piece of my own. I walked by Luciano's shop many times on my way to Italian class, always peeking in the window and sometimes stopping in to have a look. It was during one of those stops when I saw this bracelet and knew it was the accessory for me. It's a classic beauty made even more special with the addition of the Roman coin charm my sis gave me on my 23rd birthday.
What a gift it was to experience all that Italian fashion goodness with my sister. I am grateful for the treasures I still have to this day and even more grateful for all those memories "Made in Italy".