En Route

Florence, Alabama

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - In The Issue -

Lo­cated on a bluff over­look­ing the Ten­nessee River, Florence, Ala., was named in 1818 af­ter Florence, Italy, by the town's orig­i­nal sur­veyor. Gen. An­drew Jackson was among the buy­ers who pur­chased the first 180 lots in the com­mu­nity that soon be­came a thriv­ing tex­tile cen­ter. Re­gret­tably, nearly all the in­dus­trial base was de­stroyed dur­ing the Civil War be­cause the town re­peat­edly changed hands be­tween Con­fed­er­ate and Union forces. To­day, as one of the largest and most pro­gres­sive cities in North Alabama, Florence is home to the Univer­sity of North Alabama, as well as host to nu­mer­ous art and mu­sic venues, his­toric sites and a cal­en­dar of events to high­light the best of it all.

Why go now: Now that sum­mer's swel­ter­ing heat and hu­mid­ity are past, take ad­van­tage of the South's “pleas­ant sea­son,” which is not nec­es­sar­ily dis­con­nected from South­east­ern Con­fer­ence foot­ball. And be­cause the hol­i­days are upon us, you'll find plenty of bou­tiques to shop. My fa­vorite — not just in Florence, but any­where I've been this year — is Billy Reid (www.bil­lyreid.com), a cloth­ing store stocked with lux­ury goods for men and women. Beau­ti­ful fab­rics, ex­quis­ite con­struc­tion and clas­sic style in the con­text of “cool com­mu­nity.”

Spend your day: Mus­cle Shoals, Ala., next door neigh­bor to Florence, is hal­lowed ground for mu­sic buffs. Start out with a stu­dio tour at FAME (http://www. fame2.com), where dur­ing the past 50 years, they have been in­volved with record­ing or pub­lish­ing records that have sold more than 350 mil­lion copies world­wide – in­clud­ing “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Otis Red­ding, plus artists Aretha Franklin, Lit­tle Richard, Wil­son Pickett, Etta James, Otis Red­ding, the Os­monds, Jerry Reed, Alabama, Mac Davis, the Gatlin Broth­ers, Bob­bie Gen­try and many oth­ers. More re­cently, FAME has recorded projects for Ja­son Is­bell and the 400 Unit, Matisyahu, Band of Horses, Drive by Truck­ers, Bet­tye Lavette, Cyril Neville the Civil Wars and Jamie John­son.

Alabama Mu­sic Hall of Fame (http://www.alamhof.

Story and pho­tog­ra­phy by Re­becca McCormick

Florence, Ala., is bor­dered by the Ten­nessee River and Pick­wick Lake.

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