The Carpenters sang “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” For me, summer Mondays are as good as any other day and as far as rainy days go, I’m more in the Eddie Rabbit camp (I’m sure I lost of few of you there with that reference). Looking out my window, I once again see light rain. I have learned to pack my piccolo ombrello when heading out.
As I head out my porta and down my strada, I notice these scarpe in the Ferragamo finestra and go in to investigate. I’m nervous entering these oh so posh stores. When a well dressed man has to open the door to allow me to entrare, that is a sure sign I should not. But, as I said, these shoes, adorned with paint, caught my occhio.Salvatore Ferragamo designed only one style of shoe for men in his lifetime, and you’re looking at them. Andy Warhol owned a pair and naturally, he painted in them. In 2006, the Ferragamo family bought those paint-specked Warhol shoes at an auction and now create copies available for purchase. I am LOVING them. Perhaps this Halloween I’ll dress as Warhol (last year I was van Gogh, Salvador Dali and Frida the years before). I assure you my scarpe will not be Ferragamo.Now these replicas of The Rainbow Sandal created for Judy Garland, I CAN afford. The upside is I only have to buy one. It is probably the only Ferragamo I will ever own.
With the weather threatening, I stay close to my neighborhood, but cross the ponte. As I do, I see this happy guy painting away. He has his bicicletta set up as an easel and is using a LP record as a palette. You KNOW we will be doing this in studio602! I stood and watched him for a moment. You get different reactions from different “artist”. This guy…welcoming as can be. I don’t even think he expected me to buy something. I admired a cute, silly little painting (he uses a palette knife) of a church and graveyard. He had attached a clear piece of plastic in the shape of a ghost. When I commented on it, he smiled and said, “Eeettaaa eeeesssa justa for funnnaaa. oooooooo-a”. His ghost sound cracked me up!
I chose a painted rock with Ponte Vecchio on it…seemed fitting as that most famous ponte was in our sight, the next bridge over. His “studio” was on Ponte Santa Trinita. This original work of art cost 1 euro!!! AND he threw in the ghost painting as a “geeefttaaa”. I bought 2 more rocks after that. You would have thought he just pocketed hundreds of dollars. He was so very tickled. From halfway across the bridge, he was still telling me to have a bella giornata! He had just made it that.After my big purchase I head to the Santo Spirito area. I had understood there was a market near but could not find it. I checked out the menus at the trattoria’s framing the piazza. Tortelli Mugellani (the recipe Anna shared with us…certo!) sounds great, but of course they are not serving now…Well, there is a restaurant on my strada that I have wanted to try…no go either. Most restaurants…good ones at least, serve lunch and dinner only. Aperitivo in between, but I am hungry. With the rain really coming down now, I get a spring in my step when I remember I still have the schiacciata I bought with Costanza. Perfetto. and I have left over chips AND left over wine from a bottle I bought at La Volpe e l’Uva. I turn back around and head for home (all of 10 steps).
Paola and I are to meet at 5:00 in front of the Dante statue at Santa Croce. This is very near her appartamento. The great news here is Paola (with Elisa’s help) has agreed to allow me to leave a small bag of…stuff…with her until I return. I’m not sure how I’ve collected what I have in only 9 days, but this is such a luxury. When I return, I can sort through and decide what I really want to lug home.
Before leaving for Italy, Paola and I had communicated once. Our original plan was to meet together in the morning, visit a market, cook lunch, tour a rose garden and then enjoy dinner together as well. However, the rain has changed our plans quite a bit. At this point we are only meeting for a brief visit. During lunch she texts me advising how to call a cab due to the rain. I tell her I will walk anyway- I will not melt. Not sure how that translates. I walk over in quite a downpour, but I love the sound of Italian thunder. During the walk she has texted me again. This time giving me the exact address of her appartamento. She wishes for me to come there so she does not melt. Negotiating the streets of Italy is molto tricky. When I reach Dante’s statue, I ask a shop owner standing outside (they ALL stand outside) where I might find Via San Giuseppe. He says, “I-a weeelll-a show-a you”. Along our 4 step journey, he adds, “Howww-aa did-a you-a get-a so lucky to have-a found-a me-aa?” Then he point up and says, “We have-a arrived-a.” Moral of the story is the street names change at any given point. Like I said, molto tricky.
The rain has ceased now and Paola comes down to greet me. Kiss/Kiss. Oh and by the way, this is Paola1. We walk up a narrow corridor with many steps. On the way, she stops every once in awhile to tell me something. She has lived here for several years. I think she mentioned she does a four year lease. She is a bit concerned about what will happened at the end of this current lease. Her landlady is 97 years old. Paola’s appartamento is the tiniest one I have visited yet.
I think we are in the whole of it when she walks back down a couple of narrow steps (I can’t even explain this well. I felt like I was in a storybook) opens another little door, and we enter her separate, piccolo, piccolo cucina.Talk about tidy, organized and cute! This girl knows how to get the most out of her space. On the sill she has a little herb garden and inside she uses fruit boxes as shelves. How clever! (Finger to eye here!)
We sit and talk a bit enjoying succo di mela e biscotti.We then go on a short walk where Paola shares some of her favorite spots. The first was the same cafe bar where Constanza brought me to. It does have a spectacular view of the Duomo’s dome through its large glass finestra.
Our next stop was a very nice grocery. Paola says she visits when she needs a specialty item. She bought a bit of prosciutto while here.We parted ways after she showed me this fabulous art supply store. Paola is not sure if she will be in Florence when I return, but I know we will stay in touch. What a gentle soul she is. Kiss/Kiss, Ciao, Ciao!!
I walk around this amazing story trying not to get too invested. There are so many things I would like to bring back home. When I return in July, I will definitely come back to grab some of these palette knives. I want to use them as cheese knives. (Finger to eye again.)Walking back to my appartamento the skies have cleared and the air is cool and crisp.
It is aperitivo time, so I grab my book (a prop at this point) and head back over to Santo Spirito. As I am crossing Ponte Santa Trinita, I look over at Ponte Vecchio and am struck by the amazing light. People just walk past as I capture the bridge in its golden hour….Again, Living Right!
In the photography portion of Art III, I have students take multiple images of an object, person, place or event and then create a montage work of art from the multi images. I took multi images of this scene to create one myself.
When I arrived at the piazza, it was already quite full of people and their spritzs. I hovered near a prime table as the waiter cleared it. Instead of choosing the restaurant I had eyed earlier, I chose Tamero Pasta Bar soley because I liked their thrown together look. Again, good choice Paige!
I start, as one should start in Florence with an Aperol Spritz. The waiter looks at his watch when I order. I noticed people coming out with plates of Happy Hour looking food and I think they were getting ready to stop that service. Not to worry. I wasn’t sure how I would hold my table, watch my borsa AND carry a plate of food out. So I just order from the menu.Sitting out under the trees, listening to conversations, smelling cigarette smoke (ok not so much that part), watching people, feeling the welcome breeze…I am molto felice. I mentioned this last time that it would be wonderful to be sitting with a loved one right now, the evenings are always that way, but would they have enjoyed the day?On this summer evening, I chose Panzanella and this year’s favorite, Prosciutto e Papai. Heaven!!
As with most evening dining experiences in Italia, they do not rush you off. The table is yours for as long as you would like. I decide I will stay until they light the candle on my table. When I do leave, I first go inside to check out the interior. This is a hip, gritty place. The kind I’m sure get rock’n as the night gets later.
When I get ready to exit, I pass the kitchen area. I LOVE the way they have their meats displayed. A guy is working with the prosciutto when I walk by and I ask if I may take a photo. “aahh…si, si…un momento.” And he proceeds to stop what he is doing, replace the prosciutto and turn the other meats to their most photogenic side. Grazie!Although I am leaving the piazza, most are just arriving. Sitting around the fountain or the steps of Santo Spirito makes for a classic Italian notte.Crossing back over Ponte Santa Trinita, I catch Ponte alle Grazie in sunset.
On my last trip, there was the photograph I took of the 3 boys and their dad in the waters of Monterosso. It is a photo I would have loved to share with them. I feel the same way about this one. Snagging one of the points off the side of the ponte seems to be the thing to do in Florence. What a date night!Arriving on my strada, there are signs Fashion Week will be in full swing tomorrow. I am sorry I could not get these guys from the front. Although most Italian men do not wear shorts, especially during the evenings, the guy to the left is an exception. Notice his short sleeve blazer, fitted perfectly over his bare chest. As I said, at 11:00, the night has just begun. Having salad and fruit for dinner (work with me) allows me to enjoy dessert…Edoardo’s again!!?? Perche no?