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OT: My first trip to Italy

June 3 2012 at 10:13 AM
DerekS  (Login dsiewmy)
from IP address

2 weeks ago, i had the opportunity to visit Italy for the first time. Although i've been to a number of places, i have never been to italy. I don't know why is it so, but i guess fate hasn't arrived yet.

So when the opportunity (or an excuse) came along, i snapped at it immediately without question.
Although actual work was done on this trip, i have to honestly say most of the time was spent hunting down the 3 panerai boutiques and meeting wonderful people.

(Disclaimer : I'm a lousy photographer, and although the camera i used was a decent one, i'm seriously lacking some skills)

started of with a transit at the doha airport (also a first for me!)

once i arrived malpensa, i took the express train to the centrale station.
it's funny that i pronounce it as "central" but the italians pronounce it as "centra-leh".

funny note: please note that the first person to actually speak to me when i arrived italy, was in fact a chinese, who spoke to me in mandarin. and also, the last person who spoke to me was a VAT officer, was also a chinese national, in mandarin. pretty peculiar especially when i'm in italy.

next morning, i headed to the duomo, it was pretty early, not much crowd yet

next to it was the Emmanuelle 2 plaza, pretty nice

i heard somewhere that this is the first prada boutique EVER!!!

love the cobblestone streets, everything seems so vintage

i even saw a watchmaker selling vintages next to the duomo, i simply love the word "orologeria"
the crowd building up at the duomo

first boutique, was the MILAN boutique at via montenapoleone

all i can say for this boutique is it's a very modern one but with FANTASTIC people working in it.
Mr Pietro is a very nice guy who spent a lot of time talking with me, and the rest of the Panerai staff are just super helpful as well

Pietro even took the time to show me some pretty rare pieces such as :

not only is the box HUGEEEE, the watch is actually pretty beautiful in person. i actually appreciated tourbillion when i was looking at it (=i'm not a big complication guy)

and of course, my favorite was the marine chronometer

very well built and fantastic to look at, but too bad the pricetag is way out of reach

after bidding farewell to the Milan boutique, i was preparing myself to Firenze!! the next day

initially i was worried i wouldn't be able to find the boutique, but turns out, it's PRETTY EASY to find. just follow the crowd to the duomo

and SMACK in front of it is.... the first boutique
it took me like 15 mins to get a shot with nobody walking pass or standing around. it's a pretty busy area

inside the florence boutique, everybody was very busy and a lot of customers were buzzing in and out. so i didn't spend much time in here

after leaving the florence boutique, i quickly hunted for my next boutique, the Four Seasons boutique. On my way there, i saw this : .. is this the reason why we can't use MM anymore? if yes, i'm pretty dissapointed. their products aint that great.

i even took time to see the ponte vecchio, was a pretty sight
note : i only walked around other sights because the four seasons boutique has a lunch hour break. so please don't go there during lunch time.


the ponte vecchio was a pretty amazing sight. a bunch of old shops (a couple hundred years old) all selling jewellery on an old bridge

i asked around for directions to the four seasons, and they told me it was 15 minutes away by foot. and i walked.

15 mins passed, and i walked some more

only after 25 minutes of walking, i saw the sight of the hotel

i have to say that this is a beautiful hotel. but what was more beautiful was the entrance to the Four Seasons Panerai boutique.



even the door arch looked amazing

i met up with Ms Valentina who was kind enough to show me the grounds of the hotel.

there's an old convent in this hotel which is converted to being an exclusive wing now




back in the boutique, as there was a fellow pinoy risti visiting the boutique as well. Ms Valentina was busy helping him. During this time, i took time to admire the boutique.
Although it was a simple room with a showcase of watches, one has to take some time to actually feel the atmosphere in there, and i have admit, after awhile it's pretty damn amazing. the art on the walls start to grow on you.

apparently the art on the wall are all hundreds of years old. i'm not one for vintage art, but they do look pretty old and most importantly, they looked like they had a story to tell.


after awhile i realised this was an amazing working environment, it was calm and serene and even had a nice view of the outside
now i'm totally jealous of this office.

After awhile, i think Valentina found that i was bored and showed me some STRAPsss...and it was my first time looking at OEM straps in this way, it was nice happy.gif


i spent a whole afternoon at the boutique with Valentina, and a fellow pinoy risti. we talked about watches and even had afternoon tea.
before i left, a photo together with valentina

when i was leaving, i couldn't stop thinking that there was something very different with this boutique from the others. i couldn't explain what it was, was it the atmosphere, was the valentina-effect? or was it because of this ...

whatever it was, i conclude that it was the warm hospitality by all the boutiques. everybody was amazing. it was my first time in a boutique whereby i felt welcomed and felt like i was an actual customer (even though i didnt buy anything).

and as i left both florence boutiques, it was time to bid goodbye and it was the end of a day and also an end to my trip


hope you enjoyed reading and i'm sorry for the length

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