What made you decide to move to Italy?
The choice wasn’t really mine; I was approached by Ferragamo. I was part of a competition called Texprint, a sponsorship programme for new designers which has contacts in the industry. Through the programme I did a trade show in Paris in September; Ferragamo made me an offer and I couldn't say no.
What’s the Italian fashion world like?
Less scary than I expected. There are definitely stereotypes about the Italian fashion world and their presence in the fashion industry, but being in it isn’t like The Devil Wears Prada!
When you scale things down and you’re in an office with nice people and designers, you make friends.
How have you found the people?
Lovely. It can be difficult when the whole office is speaking Italian, and Ferragamo is less international than I thought; it’s a very Italian and Florentine company. But it’s a nice environment and although I’ve learnt some Italian it’s reassuring that at least one person in the office speaks English.
I didn’t know any stereotypes about people of different regions in terms of their personalities, so I was really surprised when I was told that other people have experienced Florentines to be cold. I made friends really easily – smiling at everybody worked quite well!
Did you speak Italian before the move?
I had taught myself a bit, enough to get by, which was definitely useful.
The language has been difficult at times, but you have to know that you’re going to make a fool of yourself you for at least a month, and swallow your pride!
What are the best bits of Florence?
Everything – I love it! Even though Florence is a small city I’m discovering exciting places and new places are opening, which I think is positive.
I’d definitely recommend Hemingway’s cioccolateria and cafe in Oltrarno. Bar Volume isn’t a hidden gem but it’s great.
The Piazza Ciompi vintage market near my house is cheap and fun; it’s full of weird objects and it’s a cross between an antiques and a flea market.
There’s also the panini and burger stand outside the stadium. It’s been there for years; it looks like a burger van but has really good, fresh food. And the really nice gelateria in Piazza della Passera.
What have you found a challenge?
Getting ill and experiencing the typical Italian bureaucracy. I found out how to go to a doctor and found one who spoke English, then I was told that I had the wrong paperwork and I had to go home again.
Also, the hour-long queue at the post office.
Is there anything you miss from home?
I thought I would miss more than I do.
I miss the comfort of knowing everything, of knowing the city and the people, that feeling of normalness can disappear easily here. You don’t have that security, but then if you turn that around it’s a positive thing and everything’s exciting.
Despite working in the great Italian fashion industry, I miss the great British high street – there’s no Topshop!
I’m a seaside girl so I miss living by the sea, and not having tea breaks at work!
What advice would you give to someone thinking of moving to Tuscany?
Learn a bit of Italian first, even just a tiny bit, so that you’re not completely overwhelmed.
Speak to people who are already here; I made friends through the internet before coming here.
Don’t say no to invitations, because through saying yes to things I’ve made loads of friends and discovered things I never would have otherwise.
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