Deep in the heart of the rolling hills of Tuscany sits this designer outlet mall that’s technically an outdoor space that houses individual boutiques from all the major Italian labels including Gucci, Fendi, Moschino, and Versace, plus harder-to-find outlets like Tom Ford, Philipp Plein, Lanvin, and Alexander McQueen. You could easily spend an entire day here scouring the racks for 30 to 50 per cent off . Most notably, the Fendi outlet has an amazing selection of limited-edition Baguette bags. The Mall is also a convenient 30-minute drive from Prada Space, so plan on making a day of it. And unless you are blessed with an equally passionate-aboutfashion partner, don’t even bother bringing them along. themall.itGETTING THERE There’s a direct bus that departs from Busitalia Bus station in Florence, and return tickets cost €13. The bus has free wifi !La Vallee Village
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When we did make it to Montemerano, I used up 2 rolls of film on my digital camera on unsuspecting people’s doorways before rounding the corner to see a church. Outside was pretty spartan, I have to say. Rough, carved stone, a wooden door, a crucifix above the door, and a forlorn look in its metaphorical eye that made me feel like I should visit it just so it wouldn’t feel so lonely. My first thoughts were that the church was your typical Italian church. I won’t lie and tell you that I can identify a church by its’ interior from 50 feet away, but they are more or less all pretty similar. You walk in, you see some pews, you see some candles, you see some artwork, you look up at the ceilings and see some paintings, you see a person sitting at a desk tucked away in a corner with pamphlets explaining the restoration efforts and costs with a small basket for collecting change, you get the idea I’m sure. I made my way slowly down the center aisle towards the front of the church and noticed the candles flickering to my right just in my peripheral vision. I paid no further attention to them and just basked in the silence, grateful that I had turned off the shutter sound on my camera so as not to interrupt anyone. Soft music was playing over hidden speakers but this somehow did not break the absolute stillness of the place. While I enjoyed the silence, I started to feel a little as if the walls were closing in around me and decided to put my customary euro in the donation tray and light a candle.
This square is very popular. It is in the exact centre of the city, and in fact the bridge opposite the square is called Ponte di Mezzo, the “middle bridge”. The statue in the square is of Garibaldi. The square is always very crowded and it is one of the gathering points in Pisa. From April to July the square is packed with students going to the bars that open onto the square and sitting on the Lungarno walls. Moreover, in this square you can find the best ice-cream shop, La Bottega del Gelato: don’t miss it!