It's 9:00 PM, and we're waiting for a table at Osteria Santo Spirito, located in the piazza of the same name. The apartment where we are staying is nearby, and I have a feeling after all the walking we did today, we won't be awake long when we return there.
There are a few things I am curious about in Florence.
First... the concentration of decent looking men has increased exponentially. I might attribute this to the fact that everyone here is much better dressed than elsewhere in Italy. The perception may also be skewed by a gaggle of what we assumed were male models, all dressed in black outside the new Gucci museum in Piazza della Signoria (consequently, the square where the bonfire of the vanities too place in 1497), which opens to the public Wednesday. They were rolling out black carpets in preparation for a fashion show. This was odd... a small Asian man with thick grey hair in shoes with no socks and the cuffs of his trousers all rolled up was standing out front. Not chic. At all. But the sole photographer on the scene was taking pictures of him.
Second... how on God's green earth is it possible to ride a bicycle in a skin tight skirt and stiletto heels? I am absolutely perplexed by this, but these Italian women totally rock it. I may have to try and start a trend back home in Washington D.C., though I am unconvinced it will look as cool on one of the city's red share bikes. The old school ones here with the big basket are pretty sweet.
Third... how can you walk into a leather store here, see a price tag on a jacket that makes you a little queasy... say 1100 euros. Without any haggling necessary, they offer you a special price -- just for you -- of 750 euros. But señora, the price is still falling. The jacket is now 450 euros. Why can't the price just be the price?
Fourth... and this doesn't pertain JUST to Florence. No matter where we are, no matter the time of day, the weather or the cost... there are a few items mom will buy. The list includes: tissues, toilet paper, umbrellas (we now have three), and flashlights. She wants me to mention that we don't have a flashlight yet, but HAVE used all the tissues she bought in Sorrento. Regardless, she can not, nor will not -- under any circumstances --stop talking about these things. I swear. Repeatedly.
Five... also applies to the lot of Italy, but whatever. People here cannot help but do two things. One is not watch where they are walking. I am 5'11", and if I had a euro for every person that has walked directly into me since I've been here, I could have bought that damn coat mentioned two graphs ago at full price. And the other is the smoking. Im sorry to bring this up again, but they smoke while eating. While riding bikes. I think these people even smoke in their sleep. And they like to share their addiction with you, blowing it in your face while YOU are eating. I really hate smoke... it's disgusting. That said, for the first time tonight, the couple seated at the table next to us got up and moved to smoke while we finished our dinner. They get the patron saint of today award.
We walked around for about ten hours today. Lots of little shops, market stalls, wandering the back streets of Florence. No map, no destination -- it was really nice and leisurely. I admit, though, that I am getting tired of shopping. I threaten to go to a museum and leave mom to it. She says she's been saving her euros to spend here. Look, I wanted to support the economy of the entire country -- not just Firenze! The strap on her brand new purse broke, which was a bit of a nightmare. We went back to the store and they asked us to leave the purse and come back later. I made it pretty clear they needed to replace it and that she needed a loaner while we were out for the day. They did alright, getting her a different, but equally nice replacement later in the day when we stopped back. The guy lost no time in trying to sell me a coat, too. I told him I was looking forward to having kids AND sending them to college, thus couldn't afford it.
We asked the guy in a store where mom picked up the third umbrella for a lunch recommendation -- somewhere he would actually eat lunch, without tourists. He suggested Trattoria Le Mossacce. This is my favorite place we've eaten in Italy so far. The place is tiny... like a walk in closet. We are sitting directly next to the kitchen area, which is about as big as a postage stamp. It's like having ring side seats at the food circus. The gas stove is piled high with silver pots, simmering their various scents into the air. We are seated at the same table as two other people, one seems to be a carabinieri. He is eating tortellini. Mom says it's because they look like little doughnuts. She also mentions never having eaten with a man with a gun. Hardy har har.
We order Fettuna, which is on the antipasti menu. No idea what this is, but I'm feeling adventurous. When it arrives, it's crack masquerading as grilled bread. I think they rub it in garlic and douse it in olive oil. Now this will kill you. I think this bread and oil is the best thing I've eaten in Italy. Go figure. We also order the tortellini, roast chicken (Pollo Arrosto), and white beans in olive oil (Fagioli All'Uccelletto). All were decadent. I would ear here again... like tomorrow.
We started a ruckus later in the day when we went in to another leather store to price check the coat mom got. The guy where we bought it said he would give it to her free if she found it cheaper anywhere else in Florence. That's my kind of mission. He tells us 750 euros and then proceeds to show us a few other things, with very special discounts JUST for us, until I mention that we got a better deal elsewhere. When we tell him how much, his colleague comes over and starts yelling about how they copied the coat, it isn't good quality, they won't stand behind their product. It was really offensive. The guy trying to sell us stuff says something about how the color may be painted on. Mom is looking a little down at that point, which pisses me off. I told him that was enough, that making her feel bad about her purchase was inappropriate. We left. Without buying anything, I might add.
Maybe we should just eat. This shopping, museums, blah, blah, blah... FOOD is something we've become exceptionally good at.
At dinner, we've ordered Sformatino Di Zucca Gialla Con Besciamella Al Formaggio, or pumpkin flan with béchamel sauce. The texture is like a ricotta mousse, a little textured, but creamy and savory. It's sharp, but smooth, and totally yummy. Next up is Involtini Di Bresaola Con Caprino Al Basilico, or paupiettes de fresh goat cheese with basil rolled in cured beef. You know those little ham and cream cheese rolls with green onions that make such damn fine party appetizers? Thats the YMCA, and this is the country club. Then -- as if we could resist -- Gnocchi Gratinati Ai Formaggi Morbidi Al Profumo Di Tartufo, which loosely translates into a mouthgasm. Ok, fine. It's gnocchi with a soft cheese gratinee and truffle oil, which I would liken to the rated R version of macaroni and cheese. Or maybe triple X.
Do you think the airline will charge more for ME if I weigh more on the way home?