Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 926: My Dream Trip To Italy and France
By BGE from Fox Creek, Alberta, Canada, Spring 2005
Page 23 of 38: My Last Day in Firenze...
Wisteria Along the Arno
A deep, deep sleep last night. It was a long and exciting day yesterday, so I was more than ready for a good night’s sleep. This is my last full day in Firenze. I’ve a lot to do today, and a lot to cram into this last bit of my dream trip.
The phone rings. It is my son is calling from somewhere between here and Paris. He lost his sunglasses! His very expensive ‘can’t-be-seen-in-Italy-without them’ sunglasses are still at the hotel, he thinks. I tell him I’ll stop and get them today, I promise, I promise…
I head to the Internet Point and after reading the last few posts on ‘Ciao, Amici’ from my friends on Slowtrav, I close out the topic. I will open a new one from Paris after I arrive and get settled in my apartment.
This has been such a heart-warming experience for me. I was totally bowled over by the continuing support and encouragement from my Slowtrav family. Their constant reminders and daily posts on 'Ciao, Amici' have been a delight and it felt like they are all walking along beside me on this trip. Such an amazing place, Slowtrav.
On my way back from the Internet Point, I stop at Café Principe to say goodbye to the owners and to have lunch for the last time. As usual, the food is delicious and the atmosphere is warm. I have tortellini pomodoro, salad, fresh warm bread and a cappuccino. All this is for the outrageous sum of E4.60. Cheaper than I can prepare it in my apartment!
I have some last-minute shopping to do and I want to see Angie before I leave. I stop in at Cellini Gold, choose the gold chain I’ve been salivating over and a pair of earrings that I love. The owner is so gracious and so helpful… no wonder I’ve enjoyed parting with my hard-earned Canadian-dollars-turned-Euros here!
After Cellini, I stop to thank Mario at the gorgeous leather shop, Maria Vittoria, next door. I need to find a scarf for my daughter and Mario shows me a large display of scarves of all colours. I find one that will be perfect for her and he insists on giving me the scarf as a gift! There is a lot to be learned from these warm-hearted people about exceptional client service. Can I bottle some up and take it home with me, sprinkling a little on the less-than-pleasant sales people along the way? Hmmmmm... I wish!
After a nice break for ANOTHER gelato, I arrive at Angie’s gallery. This is a wonderful place for me. The pieces on display are so amazingly good, the framing is classic and Angie and her husband have created an inviting atmosphere for their clients. I feel instantly comfortable here.
I spend the next hour looking through all of the paintings stacked along the stairwell walls, and finally choose a long narrow painting of Angie’s that is perfect for me! She has captured the foods of Italy on a tabletop, panna cotta, cheese, fruit, wine… all of the foods that I’ve been eating for the last 3 weeks. I also cannot leave without a beautiful painting of a balcony loaded with wisteria, geraniums and greenery, by Guiseppe Landi. Angie will have these shipped for me. This is a huge treat for me, because it’s my nature to pack all my purchases and schlep them along with me. This trip, I’ve saved some money for shipping and it will be a treat not to have to carry awkward and heavy items on the trip home.
Angie, Judy and I meet for a dinner at Boccadama. I order risotto, and it is delicious, as always. We have wine from Puglia with our meal…an excellent choice. I know nothing about local wines and I willingly let Angie and Judy choose for me.
After dinner, we walk along the streets and window-shop, visit and window-shop more. After walking and talking, we say goodbye, and I head for my home… my last trip along this street that has become so familiar to me, in such a short time.
As I walk in my apartment door, the phone rings and it is Karen, calling from Santarcangelo again! She and I have had a few really good conversations while I’ve been here, and I had hoped to talk with her again before I leave, so this is perfect timing. Two hours later, we say goodbye. It has been such a treat to have people like Karen calling and talking with me in the evenings. Her kindness makes this feel like home, more and more.
After cleaning the kitchen, taking the trash out to the dumpster in front of the apartment building, and packing my large suitcase, I am ready for bed. Falling asleep is not easy tonight. I am anxious about getting to the train station tomorrow, anxious about making my flight out of Pisa, anxious about getting a taxi at Orly in Paris and REALLY anxious about finding the keys to my apartment when I arrive. That'd be de-lovely, wouldn't it? Finding myself locked out of my rental in Paris, at midnight, standing on the street corner with my luggage and no place to sleep!
It’s not that I don’t think I can handle all of this unfamiliarity. I know that I can deal with it. I’m not sure what is going on here... all I know is that I am feeling really apprehensive and off-balance for some reason. Sopmething doesn't feel right to me, and I can't figure it out.
No matter, I finally fall asleep, to dream of David and Michelangelo and tiramisu gelato, cappuccino and little tables for lunch in Café Principe, my morning lesson in Italian from the guy at the front door downstairs. Memories, memories, memories... there are stacks upon stacks of them, each one more precious than the next. I have loved my time in this city, in this country. I am leaving all too soon, and as I fall asleep, I realize that I am already planning my next trip to Italy.
Best Things Today:
~ finding jewellery that I loved at Cellini... then buying it!
~ the kindness and generosity of the beautiful people I have met here over the last 3 weeks, people with such warm and generous hearts
~ sitting at my table in Café Principe, feeling like I knew what I was ordering!
~ the feeling of confidence walking to Angie’s studio and not getting lost!
~ the anticipation of tomorrow, of Pisa and then Paris
~ realizing how far I have come since I arrived, so scared, apprehensive and insecure
~ having another free-flowing conversation with Karen..it felt like we are old friends!
Worst Things Today:
~ the cold, hard fact that this part of my trip is nearly over.
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