The best day of my life
By Phil Brown - The Courier Mail, 2004
Fashion Manager, NRA. Australian Fashion Design Awards.
It was on Friday October 27, 2000, when my late husband, John Cant, and I drove on the A1 from San Gimignano to Florence through the Tuscan countryside. It's divine in autumn because there's a special Iight that makes the villages and scenery look surreal.
When we arrived in Florence we checked in to the Hotel Villa Villoresi, which was a grand residence before it was a hotel and is set in an olive grove on the outskirts of the city.
We had a very special invitation to attend a gala dinner to celebrate Forrmula One driver Michael Schumacher's world championship win. I prepared our clothes for the evening and then we just spent the rest of the day in Florence walking and taking it all in - and, of course, shopping.
We grabbed a light late lunch of delicious porcini risotto ( it was the season for it) and enjoyed sitting eating in a little restaurant in the cobbled streets not far from the Duomo, the famous cathedral.
Shopping is always good in this city but on this day I found a particularly stunning long white leather skirt and wrap jacket by a then new Italian label - Pier Antonio Caspari - and I also bought a pair of caramel streamlined Italian boots, all of which I still wear and will for years to come.
We went back to the hotel to dress for the dinner and, wow, what a gala it was.
Our host for the evening was Count Luca di Montezemolo and his gorgeous tall blonde young Italian wife. He wore black, she wore white. Most of the guests wore black too while the cars were definitely red.
Michael Schumacher's Formula One cars were parked in a canopied courtyard of the Palazzo Corsini. There was much hand shaking and kissing of both cheeks and pre-dinner drinks.
An hour after we arrived we were ushered upstairs into the many salons in the palace where round tables were superbly set with white cloths, white flowers - while the waiters in attendance all looked like male models from Milan.
The food was wonderful and presented like something on the cover of Gourmet Traveller and it was accompanied by the best of Italian wines. The speeches, company and conversation were exciting and entertaining.
I was in awe - just being there and enjoying all this with my wonderful husband, John, surrounded by exquisite frescoes, furnishings, food, fashion and, of course, Ferrari cars.
It was just the best day.
- with Phil Brown
John and Di at the Ferrari Headquarters Maranello. The home of Ferrari and Scuderia Ferrari Formula One racing team.
John and Di Cant in Florence.