Monthly Archives: May 2009

Bright Lights and Mountains

Cape Town, or the “Mother City”, as it is more affectionately known, is a place where old and new converge – in history, architecture, culture and people.

Cape Town

The city is dominated by Table Mountain, and is on the edge of a peninsula – with mountains, valleys and rivers, and the meeting place of two oceans – the Indian and Atlantic. It is a city of contrast and immense natural beauty, where the pace and bright lights of an urban centre meet the relaxed feel of the ocean, forests and mountains. Cape Town is firmly positioned on the international map and offers a myriad of things to do and places to see, whatever your tastes, inclinations or budget. In essence, it is a gateway to the rest of Southern Africa.

Cape Town - Sea

As the oldest city in South Africa, Cape Town has a cultural heritage spanning more than 300 years. It also has the top five national attractions in South Africa – Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront (which is a superb shopping and holiday experience on a working harbour), Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated), the Cape Town Wine Routes (having some of the world´s best wine farms), and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (on the slopes of Table Mountain).

In terms of business, most companies operate head office functions from Johannesburg (the real economic hub of Southern Africa), with Cape Town as a secondary office location. Cape Town has a very much more relaxed feel than the frenetic pace of Johannesburg, and is preferred by many people for this reason. I visited Cape Town while I was in South Africa for our annual actuarial careers fair at the University of Pretoria, one of South Africa’s leading universities, located in South Africa’s capital city, a half hour drive from Johannesburg.

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Italian Insurance

On a recent visit to Italy I found that you can often tell that you are approaching the city centre by the sudden saturation of insurance companies.

Italy does not have skyscraper financial districts so when insurance companies clump together, their presence is clearly visible from street level. In some cities they are scattered in and amongst the historical buildings and museums.

In Torino a number of insurance companies are to be found in Piazza Solferino alongside Teatro Alfieri. In the winter there is a free, open air ice rink in the middle of the square and the atrium, built for the winter Olympics in 2006, is used year round to host exhibitions.

Padova also has a small cluster of insurance companies, you can see them when strolling from the sumptuous open air market back towards the train station.

In Florence, Generali’s building is directly opposite the Palazzo Reale in the heart of the historical centre, their carved, Venetian lion standing proud of the wall.

By contrast, Verona’s insurance companies are all outside of the historic centre. The building is modern and even Generali have used illuminated signage rather than carving their stone lion.



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