Last week, I attended Florens 2012, the Florence Culture and Heritage Week in Florence, Italy. It was one of the most memorable conferences I have attended so far, and for several reasons. One, I got to meet the other 5 winners of Team Florens who had come from around the world, namely USA, UK, Australia and Italy. We spent a lot of time together, talking, tweeting, wandering around Florence and eating our way through the city.

Each day, we started with a breakfast at the hotel, where we discussed how to divide and conquer the many important discussions taking place. The good thing was each of us had somewhat different interest within the field of culture, covering art, travel, food, history and archaeology. We generally spent the entire day at Palazzo Vecchico, one of the most impressive town halls of Tuscany. Lunch was a good time to catch up with the group and meet the 50 or so other bloggers who were also attending Florens 2012. We had a gelato cart at our disposal everyday at lunch, which is worth attending a conference for!

Two, we were in one of the loveliest places in the world and in a city which is the global seat of culture. Florence is a small Italian city with beautiful views, ancient architecture, art museums, local shopping and the most amazing Tuscan cuisine. I have been charmed by this city more than once now, and I think it is a must see when visiting Italy. Even thought the conference schedule was hectic, I managed to stroll around ever so often, discovering new neighborhoods, soaking in the warm Tuscan sun and the joie de vivre of the place.

Three, the theme of the conference was centered on culture, a topic that is pivotal to the nonprofit movement, Go Eat Give. The speakers included art historians, politicians, designers, business executives, economists, professors, chefs, restaurateurs and more. They talked about facts on culture driving economies, gave specific examples of what has worked for them, and several ideas on what needs to be done to preserve and drive culture around the world. Representatives from India to France shared their different perspectives with a common understanding that we are not doing enough. It was the synergy of all of these distinctive areas of culture that were brought together at Florens 2012 to create a better future for economies everywhere.

Four, Florens 2012 did a good job at “walking the walk” meaning they included cultural activities as part of the conference too. We were already in the cultural capital of the world. We had daily appertivos – a networking wine reception and showcases by local artists, authors and thought leaders. There were also art installations built around the city, such as the olive trees in front of the Duomo and the cross at Piazza Santa Croce. Passerby’s could participate in the cultural week just by observing these symbolic displays.

There were also art exhibits at various museums and Palazzo open during the week, along with a Gastronomic fair which anyone could participate in. I attended the gelato for dinner presentation, a chef’s demonstration and the open air food and wine market. Food is a huge part of culture, so it was wonderful to see that Florens 2012 exhibited this during the conference.

The Cultural and Heritage week is an annual event so if you get a chance to go next time, you must! It is the perfect way to discover all that encompasses culture – food, art, history and economy. The combination of the location, speakers and extracurricular events will stimulate all of your senses and open up your minds.

I look forward to sharing more in depth details with you from Florens 2012 on Go Eat Give’s blog. Also, read reports of the event by other Team Florens bloggers:

Ted Nguyen, Ted Nguyen USA

Jenna Francisco: This is My Happiness

Hasan Niyazi: 3 Pipe Problem

Simone Massi: Archaeology 2.0

Nathalie Salas: Perfect Boutique Hotel

Melissa Pignatelli: La Rivista Culturale