Sister City Agreement Signed October, 1964
The relationship with Florence, Philadelphia's first Sister City, was established in 1964. Located on the Arno River in the Tuscan region of Italy, Florence is both the heart of the Renaissance and a popular tourist destination. Throughout the 13th centuries the city was known as the Athens of the West. During that time, writers, artists, musicians and merchants flocked to the city to lay the groundwork for a culture that survives to this day. Florence is home to more than 500,000 people that give the city a reputation as a world center for hand crafted art, women's fashion, antiques and cinematic art.
Hundreds met three artisans in their 'pop-up shops' at Macy's!
Two were from Florence and one was an American who studied shoe design there
Philadelphia's Sister Cities Program and the Comune di Firenze, with PromoFirenze Firenze, collaborated to bring three artisans to Philadelphia - two from Florence and one American who studied there.
These successful artisans showcased and sold their designs at Macy's Center City Philadelphia in 'pop-up shops' that Macy's provided in the Grand Court next to the Eagle. The talented artists and designers were there for four days only and enjoyed meeting Philadelphians who stopped by to welcome them to their Sister City. Many people bought their handbags (including this writer and several on CDI's staff), jewelry and shoes and were fascinated by demonstrations on how they made their beautiful products.
Members of Citizen Diplomacy International generously opened their homes and hosted our Florentine guests for the six nights they were in Philadelphia.
Below is information about the artisans:
BENEDETTA MARACCHI IS A YOUNG FLORENTINE DESIGNER.
IN 2009, SHE CREATED THE BRAND MARAKITA AS A RESULT OF HER
PASSION FOR ACCESSORIES, CREATIVE CRAFT AND FASHION.
The design, patterns and fabrics of Benedetta Maracchi’s creations are the main feature of her collections—unique items that recall the most classical and vintage styles while conveying a strong inspiration from all over the world—with a special focus on the harmony between shapes and colors.
The brand is dedicated to all accessory lovers, who enjoy playing with their outfits to create a unique and eclectic style. The MARAKITA bags are entirely “Made in Italy” and eco-friendly. Benedetta graduated from Polimoda International Institute of Fashion Design & Marketing.
MICHAEL MACK IS A SUCCESSFUL AMERICAN SHOE DESIGNER WHO
STARTED HIS COMPANY, MICHAEL GREY FOOTWEAR, IN 2007.
A GRADUATE OF SAVANNAH COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN,
HE STUDIED AND APPRENTICED IN FLORENCE.
Superior design comes from a concept derived from experiences in the world around us, or the truly imaginative mind. Life, travels, studies, technique, and a passion for creation is the very DNA of MICHAEL GREY FOOTWEAR. Using hand-selected, rich leathers, luxurious linings, and fine materials from around the world makes all the difference in the product. Owner and designer, Michael Mack, is an American who studied in Florence at the Polimoda International Institute of Fashion Design & Marketing. He specializes in creating distinctive looks in footwear for women and men, as well as creating as beautiful shoes for hard-to-fit people of all foot sizes.
PICCHIANI & BARLACCHI Director of Administration and staff
PICCHIANI & BARLACCHI BEGAN IN 1896 WITH GASTONE PICCHIANI
AND HIS SKILLED CRAFTSMEN WORKING IN HIS CELLAR. MORE THAN
A HUNDRED YEARS LATER THE COMPANY HE AND MR. BARLACCHI
FOUNDED IS A WORLD-RENOWNED FLORENTINE COMPANY
The house of PICCHIANI E BARLACCHI started in 1896 and is known as a historic enterprise in Italy. Working with artists, sculptors and architects, this family business creates unique coins, medals, and plaquettes – as well as beautifully crafted jewelry. Two Barlacchi family members were in Philadelphia on the Sister City exchange at Macy’s. Giovanna Montauti and her sister Chiara Montauti, both of whom are heavily involved in the companies operations.
PREVIOUS GUESTS FROM FLORENCE:
Cathleen Compton, Chief of Staff of the Commissioner of University, Research and Youth Policies in Florence, visited Philadelphia in August 2010 with her husband, Giampiero Gallo, a member of Florence's City Council. She is orginally from the Philadelphia area and has lived in Florence for the past 20 years. In fact, Cathleen and Giampiero met at International House while studying at the University of Pennsylvania! During their visit to Philadelphia, they met with many people including Honorable Luigi Scotto, Consul General of Italy in Philadelphia, and Anna Mattei, Ph.D.
Below are photos from various exchange trips to Florence and Philadelphia, including the Splendor of Florence in 2001.
To learn more about Florence, visit: