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Report 926: My Dream Trip To Italy and France

By BGE from Fox Creek, Alberta, Canada, Spring 2005

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Page 18 of 38: Time Flies When You're Having Fun

photo by BGE

My First Cappucino in 4 Years

I spent 10 hours sleeping last night and I’m feeling much better now, thank you very much! I truly sleep for a very long time and really deeply these days, and for that I am most thankful. I’m still smiling as I walk to the kitchen to open the shutters. Cathedral bells are my alarm clock this morning as usual, and that makes me happy.

It is one week today til I leave for Paris! WHERE did this time go? Holy kamoley, I cannot believe I’ve been in Florence for 2 whole weeks…14 days already.

It seems only a few weeks ago that I made the decision to come here, then posted it on Slowtrav's message board and told my kids and my friends I was going, as insurance that I'd not change my mind again. It seemed that by telling people about my trip, it reinforced my decision to make it happen.

I remember my first week here, and how scared I was, how uncertain I felt and how much time I spent to accomplish even the simplest of tasks.

Simple things like buying groceries, ordering a bit of food and a cup of tea in a café, using a payphone… all of these and other tasks that I do at home without a thought have reduced me to tears here, in no time. Today, only 14 days later, I can find my way around without getting too lost, order simple meals in Café Principe, and buy my groceries at Essalunga with only a bit of discomfort. This is a small success for me.

I walk to Angie’s gallery this morning. I could spend hours here, looking at her beautiful food creations and her husband’s colour-saturated landscapes. Both of them are accomplished artists and it is like being in my own studio to be here with her. I intentionally did not bring any sketching or painting materials with me. I’ve saved that for a future trip, and I’m not unhappy with my decision.

After hanging out with Angie for a few hours, I head over to Boccadama for lunch. It is only a few blocks away, in Piazza Santa Croce. I order their delicious Tuscan soup, with a stack of fresh warm bread, cappuccino and acqua naturale. As always, it is perfect.

I am sitting beside two very nice women from Southern California. They are renting an apartment and we had much to share with each other. I also gave them my card with Slowtrav information, and they were delighted! They say that they’ve been looking for a really good travel site, and so far hadn’t found one. I gently suggest that they haven’t tried Slowtrav yet.

Going back to Angie’s after lunch, I meet her husband and her darling Jack Russell… the famous dog who was treated very badly earlier this year by a restauranteur who is located just down the street from Angie’s gallery. This is the coolest little dog in the Universe! Why anyone would want to mistreat a cool little JR like this is beyond me. Aside from the occasional bit of attention given to a passerby who stops at the gallery door, you’d never know there is a dog on the premises!

Angie gives me a couple of copies of the darling limoncello book that she and Judy have created. Judy is also a member of Slowtrav, and she has a spectacular website, Divina Cuccina. Judy provided the recipes and Angie created the graphics for this publication. It's very well done. Complimenti, Angie and Judy!

Later, after our visit, I wander through the streets, stopping in any place that intrigues me. Among the gems I find along my way are:

Casini, Piazza Du-o-mo, 45r - this cool jewellery store has Nomination charms and bracelets! I have a Nomination bracelet that I bought several years ago in Hawaii, and I have never seen the Nomination charms available anywhere since. I choose a charm with an infinitesimally small Du-o-mo in 14K gold on the front the charm. The owner is kind enough to put the charm on for me…I’m hopeless, doing this for myself.

LILIVM is next and it is packed full of people. Crowds are not my favourite thing and especially not when they are in such a small shop, as well. I’ll come back later, as I’m looking for leather-bound journals for my son-in-law and myself.

Hey, it must be almost time for a pit-stop.

Imagine that! How convenient... Rivoire is right in front of me.

After a cappuccino and a large bowl of their perfect tiramisu, I am ready to take on the world. Funny how a great dessert will do that for you.

I’m standing in front of a gorgeous little jewellery shop called Cellini Gold. This is the first time I’ve seen a few pieces of jewellery that would entice me to go in and take a closer look. There are some scrumptious pieces in the window display and as I’m...

”Madame, WHERE did you get that beautiful leather jacket you’re wearing?”

I look around, and Mario from Maria Vittoria Latini, my leather shop, is standing behind me. He knows the owner of Cellini, invites me into the store and introduces me to the gentleman behind the counter. “Take good care of her, she’s a good client of mine!” he tells the owner.

I’ve been looking for a gift for my daughter, because she’s been kind enough to take care of the office for me while I’m away. I know it will be a total zoo there, with only one person in the office, and because I appreciate her help so much, I've been wanting something really special for her. It looks like I’ve found it.

In the window is a slender bracelet, exquisite little engraved tubes of gold, each one about ½ inch long, strung together and interspersed with an emerald, a ruby, a sapphire, an emerald, and so on, in between each little tube. The stones are about the size of a small pearl, and are faceted. It is perfect!

I also find a pair of earrings that are the nicest I’ve ever seen. He allows me to try one on, and I ask him if that is permitted. In jewellery stores at home, it’s totally not possible to try on pierce earrings unless you are guaranteeing that you will buy them.

“No, no, go ahead…how can you know if you like them if you cannot at least try them on?” he asks.

Now, this guy gets it! I truly understand the reason why most places will not let customers try on pierced earrings, but I gotta tell ya, this made a sale for him.

With these purchases tucked away in a zippered pocket inside my jacket, I stop at the bookstore that I pass every day. I’ve been wanting to read Ross King's “Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling" for a few weeks now, and tonight, the gods are smiling. There is one copy, in English, left on the shelf.

I don’t know what it is with books, but there is something that soothes me when I spend time in a book store. Invariably, it will be a very long time, wandering, browsing through the books and taking my own sweet time selecting which one will come home with me this time.

As I leave the bookstore, with my new book tucked inside my bag, the rain descends for serious now. It’s coming down HARD. The rain splatters onto the sidewalk in huge, fat drops, then splashing up again and soaking my jeans from the knees down. My umbrella has come in handy for the thousandth time.

Ahead of me, along the sidewalk on via Cavour, there's a sea of umbrellas. At the first streetcorner I pass, there is an enterprising young guy selling… what else? Umbrellas at E5 apiece!

“No, thanks, I have mine!” I say, as he offers me one from his selection.

After I arrive home and hang my jeans to dry, Lorenzo calls. He’s taken care of everything for my departure. He’s booked and paid for my train to Pisa, arranged for my transportation to Santa Marian Novella, he's asked about a hundred little things that need attention and he’s taking care of all of them. This guy truly is amazing!

Later, Karen from Slowtrav calls from her home in Santarcangelo. I've learned a lot from her about my trip while talking with her in the Chat Room on Slowtrav, and it's wonderful to finally talk with her in person, so to speak.

Best Things Today:

~ feeling better, physically…I hate not feeling well!

~ meeting Angie and her beloved dog

~ rain! No, really... I love the rain! ~ knowing my way around some areas of this beautiful city, finally

~ Tuscan soup…totally delicious!

Worst Things Today:

Nothing! Absolutely nothing… it has been a perfect day.

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