All Things Italy with Alicia Saso & Emily Kreber


Tour D’Italia with Alicia Saso & Emily Kreber   

What happens when two designers from Drury Design are turned loose in Florence?  

Well, they seek great design and adventure, of course!

In Part I of their journey, Alicia Saso and Emily Kreber went to the source of some of finest natural stone we sell. Click here to learn more about how our supplier partner Calia Stone Boutique in Chicago helps Drury Design clients obtain the highest-quality marble and quartzite from exclusive, historic quarries in the Tuscan region of Italy. 

 Now, the rest of the story… 

Despite a hiccup with their checked luggage upon arrival, resulting in a comical evening of exploring the city in airplane attire, our designers embraced the spontaneity of the situation and turned it into an adventure filled with laughter and inspiration.

“I still can’t believe that happened,” Emily laughed. “We were walking past the original Gucci and Prada storefronts in what we just flew over the pond in.”

Join us as we take a closer look at their travels, discovering how Florence’s rich history and vibrant fashion scene sparked creativity and left a lasting impression on their design perspectives. 

After Alicia and Emily ran to H&M for a makeshift wardrobe, they made their way back to the hotel, which was NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa – talk about old-school cool! This place has been in Florence since way back in 1386. It started off as a bustling silk joint, catering to the big names of the medieval scene, before switching gears and becoming a swanky hotel.

Back in its prime, this place was a magnet for literary giants such as Stendhal, Byron and Lamartine. Imagine this – during Alicia and Emily’s visit, they found themselves sharing a hallway with an opera singer. Indeed, operatic melodies seeped through the walls! While they never met the singer face-to-face, the vocal warm-ups became an unforgettable backdrop to their stay.

After their amusing start, Alicia and Emily dove into exploring Florence’s rich cultural tapestry, just walking the streets admiring the city’s inspiring architectural wonders – the city’s historic churches, the mesmerizing marble intricacies of the Duomo… they climbed all the way to the top to enjoy the beautiful city view.  The Duomo’s marble facade, with its intricate patterns and hues, serve as a testament to the craftsmanship of Renaissance artisans.

Alicia is known for her heels, of course. So, of course she hiked up to the top of the Duomo in her high wedge heel gym shoes. We’re talking windy, narrow staircases and hundreds of stone steps.

“The views were so beautiful and 100% worth the climb,” Alicia said. “The best skyline views in Florence!”


Of course, no visit to Italy would be complete without indulging in its culinary delights. Our designers had the privilege of partaking in a private pasta-making lesson, where they learned the art of crafting the finest Italian pasta from scratch.

Guided by a skilled chef, they kneaded, rolled, and shaped the dough with precision, learning the techniques passed down through generations. Paired with exquisite wines and an array of Italian antipasti, the experience was tasteful and very authentic, highlighting the importance of tradition and craftsmanship in Italian cuisine.

“The chef was amazing,” Alicia said. She was so real and wonderful. She wasn’t a Chef her whole life, but picked it up later. That means anyone can do it! She cooked it for us, and of course we enjoyed every minute of it!”

Pitti Palace 

A huge part of the Italian lifestyle is the country’s effortlessly chic and fashion-forward culture. Alicia and Emily visited the beautiful Pitti Palace, known for its inspirational traditional architecture.

As it turns out, it was also hosting an historical fashion exhibit featuring gorgeous dresses that belonged to prominent women in Italian society dating back to the Medici family. It also included stage costumes worn by movie, theatre and opera stars in works helmed by renowned 20th-century directors.

They also saw the “White Hall” which is a stunning ballroom that became an important setting for international fashion. It hosted the first catwalk show, organized by Giovanni Battista Giorgini in 1951. The fashion parades in the White Room played an important role in spreading Italian fashion, making the ‘Pitti’ name world-renowned.

Another part of the Pitti Palace was the outdoor area, The Boboli Gardens. The Boboli Gardens is an historical park that was opened to the public in 1766. Originally designed for the Medici Family, it represents one of the first and most important examples of the Italian garden, which later served as inspiration for many European courts.


Alicia and Emily visited a wine window… one of those small, beautifully arched openings  in walls throughout the city known as “buchette del vino.” That means “little wine doors.”

The first recorded instance of a wine window dates back to the 17th century when the bubonic plague challenged many a norm. The little windows were used for serving food and wine. The Duke of Tuscany (Cosimi l de’Medici) let families sell wine directly to customers from their homes through such windows. There were a few hundred wine windows in Florence at on etime, but most of them are bricked/closed up now and are not in use anymore. Would our designers find a working one?

The answer is ‘yes.’

“We got to ring the bell at the window,” Emily said. “We got glasses of wine to enjoy in the streets of Florence! It was such a surreal experience!”

More Art & Architecture: 

Art is everywhere in Florence. On one of their tours, Alicia & Emily walked past a little portrait carved into the side of a building that many believe was created by  Michelangelo. The story goes like this: after a night out with buddies, someone dared him to create a portrait.. but he’d have to do it with his hands behind his back – he’d have to whittle it with a tool in his mouth! Another story is that he created it while watching strangers in the street. Florence is full of stories and mysteries. 

Alicia and Emily also got to see ancient mosaic tile tools. They were fascinated at how tiny they were, and the beautiful designs they created.

“Its no wonder that hand-crafted tile is making a comeback,” Alicia said. “The detail and the perfect little imperfections are truly artistic.” 

…That’s a Wrap!

Alicia and Emily had an amazing time experiencing the true “dolce vita” in Italy, with all the wonderful architecture, food, and endless sights to see. Consider it inspiration for your next project!