Life has bittersweet moments, here are a few.
This morning we said goodbye to long-time friends Gill and Des (front & right in the photo) who joined us in Florence a few days ago. I met Gill through an ad in the magazine Family Circle 40ish years ago. We’ve communicated through various methods (handwritten letters in the old days, tapes, emails, & more recently zoom) and visited each other over the years so our friendship has grown to us becoming quite good friends. It was sad to say goodbye as they were returning to England today.
Later this morning we met up with Susan and Gary, new friends I met through social media. The backstory is that we were thinking about purchasing an apartment in Italy some years ago. I reached out to my network to talk to people who had moved to Italy and lived there full-time. Through the grapevine, I was introduced to Susan who is a lovely lady that shared her experiences. Her comments on living in Italy were enlightening and helpful. In the end, we did not buy the apartment, but we did gain new friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of Susan and Gary as we were so engaged in conversation (having just met in person for the first time) that I totally forgot.
It was our last day in Florence and we asked Susan to recommend interesting places to visit. Her top choice was Opera del Duomo Museum. It didn’t disappoint! There was so much to see, we could have spent the day walking around the magnificent exhibits. It was entertaining to see the humor in some pieces (like the man falling down drunk from drinking too much wine) and the serious scenes sculpted to depict the tragedies of the times. These photos do not do the pieces justice.
The museum housed some of the original doors of the church and baptistry. Stunning to see in person.
Lunch was next at a small osteria off a side street. We were mainly interested in sitting down and having a glass of wine. But with the menu in front of us and the beautiful pictures of food, it was hard to resist one last pizza before going home. So we ordered one! We were so involved in a conversation with our friends and travel partners Jim and Jani that we lost track of time. The waiter came to check on us and never said a thing, but we noticed everyone had left the restaurant and it was closing time. We tiptoed out (after paying the bill of course) to check out some shops for a little more shopping.
We noticed the gypsies around Florence. They take on all forms such as a mother with a fake baby in a front backpack with small children running around. They do the distract and push method. The mother positions the children in front of an unsuspecting person, she stands behind the same person and has the children distract the person while she pushes herself into the “mark.” (We personally experienced this in Rome during our visit a few years ago and hubby got his wallet stolen.)
Another more obvious gypsy is an old lady or man who is hunched over with a small cup of change begging. They may even be sitting on the pavement to give the perception that they can’t walk, however, when their “shift” is over they get up and walk upright just fine.
The gypsies we saw today were more subtle. A young couple (presumed to be husband and wife) ventured into an upscale leather shop where we were looking at belts and wallets. The couple picked up a few items as if to consider a purchase and checked the four of us out while we were shopping. I noticed them right away and told hubby to be careful, especially so they did not bump him and steal his wallet when he had it out to pay. They left the store before hubby made his purchase. Jani and I ventured out of the shop to stroll down the street to see what other stores were in the area. I spotted the gypsy couple at the end of the street. They seemed preoccupied with their cell phone but then the woman gypsy started walking towards us. I warned Jani the gypsy was headed for us and to hold onto her purse in a loud voice. As soon as Jani and I grabbed and protected our purses the gypsy made a sharp turnaround and walked back to her husband. Crisis averted!
Walking the streets of Florence provides glimpses of the centuries of inhabitants of the city. A few random buildings.
For our last dinner in Florence, we went back to an osteria behind the hotel that we had visited a few nights ago. It is a small simple place, off the beaten track, and provided a quieter atmosphere than most. Our waiter from the other night was there and happy to see our return. He offered us limoncello at the end of the meal and it was a great way to toast Jani and Jim and our wonderful trip together.