This was originally published in April, 2014 in both the print and online edition of MADE Paper based in Montgomery, Alabama.
Florence is the quintessential small Southern town, with Victorian houses on tree-line streets and a downtown celebrated for its historic preservation. There’s a strong Native American lineage here, and, for the history buffs, informative plaques marking Civil War incidents on obvious, and often not so obvious, street corners, roadsides and parks. In the 1960’s, FAME recording studio (technically across the river in Muscle Shoals) and a group of talented musicians made the area famous to those in the know. Today, Florence is home to an unprecedented two CFDA fashion designers, Natalie Chanin and Billy Reid, and the local music scene is earning significant respect. New restaurants and drinking establishments have recently opened their doors with sophisticated vibes and approachable Southern hospitality. There’s a quiet art scene and a burgeoning class of entrepreneurial makers-doers that make Florence an exciting place to watch right now. Several of the businesses highlighted below have created collaborative and multi-faceted ventures that marry into single thriving entities (Odette’s local-fare menu + craft cocktail bar + market; Alabama Chanin’s retail store + cafe + design to product facility; Billy Reid + Single Lock Records live music venue), and there are several more yet to grab the world’s attention (and they will). With prominent landmarks and a few off the beaten path secrets, this “map of Florence” will set you up for an awesome weekend.