I was surprised to see this store here, in the land of gelato, and right across the street from the Duomo. I don’t remember seeing it last year.
This coat stopped me dead in my tracks. I keep saying that. But it keeps happening.
The clerk was standing nearby and I asked her how much it cost. 2,800 Euro. I asked about sales and who bought it. She said they had sold a lot, to women of all ages. She said they were usually women who had other coats, but wanted something different. I’d feel like a museum piece in that coat. A very happy museum piece.
This is a store window I remembered from last year. I love the artistry of the colors and creativity. I enjoyed it then and this year I wasn’t disappointed.
Here is another picture showing more of the store interior.
Here is a store that delighted me because of its narrow shape. It is surprising that something was done with this small amount of space. This is on the other side of the Ponte Vecchio, near the O Cafe where my friend, Adele, and I like to go for Sicilian pastry treats.
Here are some more views.
Here is one looking straight in the shop.
I called Adele and we had plans to meet on Friday at the O Cafe, but since I was in the neighborhood, I coudn’t wait, so I went in and ordered my latte macchiata and two of my favorites.
Here is the view from the table where we stand/sit. To sit at the tables right near the window, you pay more.
Here is an interesting fountain I saw near my flat with seven spouts. When I came upon it, there were a few guys there. One was drinking water and the other was washing his face. A nice useful thing to have for people in a city.
And here is the Florentine version of the baby announcement I saw in Bologna.
I haven’t seen any of the kind of death announcements in Florence that I saw in Venice.
I had been wondering about how people moved into apartments. Unless there is an elevator, the steps are often small and steep. Today, in the rain, I had an answer. This would probably work in Venice too if they had one of these devices on a boat and your window overlooked some water. The platform moved up the ladder-like device by a motor.
Different kinds of food always catch my eye. I don’t remember seeing purple corn anywhere. But here was a box at the San Lorenzo mercato.
The man who ran this stall must sell lots of rice if he keeps it in these large trash barrels:
There were many stalls with artistic displays of food. I chose to make my purchases in those places. And I bought some of my favorite Gorgonzola dolce cheese. I walked around to all of the stands and returned to the best looking (and most expensive at 18.90 per kg). I ended up returning on Saturday to buy some more and have it vacuum packed so I could bring some home. I never found the same wonderful quality at home. Here is all the food I bought on my first day at the mercato.
After my mercato adventure I took Bus #13 near the train station up to Piazzale Michaelangelo. I hadn’t made it there last year and was so disappointed when I saw a wonderful photograph of it taken by my dentist on the wall in his office during the year. When I found out it was going to rain on Sunday (and it did!) I decided to go earlier in the week. The bus ride was long and went through many unfamiliar neighborhoods. I’ve just been in the city center, which is the old part of town. It was interesting to see the way most people in Florence live.
These are some of the pictures I took.
Here is a picture looking in the other direction. You can see the river and another bridge. It shows that there is “country” within the city of Florence.
While I was walking around and looking at the views from many vantage points, I kept hearing some very plaintive music. It occurred to me how appropriate it was and how tasteful. This is a big tourist spot with lots of buses and stalls that sell tourist stuff. And lots of tourist groups with leaders with loud microphones. He shone through it all. He played an electric guitar which he held flat on his lap. He used both hands on the strings and did a lot of tapping too. I heard some Americans talking to him and he said he was coming to Washington D.C. during the next year. I went up when they left and told him how much I enjoyed his music. He said he plays cover songs and had a CD of his own songs. I bought the CD of his own songs, called Mystic Guitar, and made a video recording of him playing one of the songs on his CD. Here is a picture of him.
His name is Sergio Paterno and he is from Argentina. He was such a nice person. His myspace address is: http://www.myspace.com/sergiopatern
. I loved the intensity of his movements when he played. When I found out he was from Argentina, we spoke a bit of Spanish. He was enjoying Florence.
Back to the old city of Florence. Here is the only well I have noticed and it still has everything intact. The flowers show me that they aren’t using it for water, however.
Here is a clothing shop, but it doesn’t look the clothes have anything to do with weddings.
I passed this gelato shop and was surprised to see this reminder of where their gelato came from.
I found the discount yarn shop in my old neighborhood and went in to see if there was anything I couldn’t live without. I saw the office and took a peek in. I thought it was funny that what he had on his desk was a bunch of different kinds of yarn. I guess in a yarn shop that would be expected, but it didn’t look like he had much room to work. His desk also seemed to be filled with photos.
Adele and I finally got together at the O Cafe. Here is what we had.
She suggested a coffee drink that had milk and chocolate. I went overboard with THREE pastries.
She had just come back from Switzerland and had bought something for her friend, Judith, who we went to see later. She assured us that it was real.
On the way we passed this garden, which she said hadn’t been open to the public in the past.
She has two friends with shops in a sweet little street called Piazza Del Limbo.
It is named this because there is a small cemetery where babies were buried who hadn’t been baptized. I had heard of this term, limbo, from Catholic friends, meaning where someone goes when they die if they haven’t been baptized, but never really thought anything more about it. Here is the cemetery.
Here is the cemetery attached to the church.
Her friend, Andre, has a shop in the Piazza called La Bottega Del’Olio with the most wonderful olive oil products. Everything was displayed so beautifully that it was hard to resist. I wish I had gone there first to buy gifts. The quality of the cotton on the aprons was excellent. I bought some skin lotion, which for some reason I had neglected to bring that has olive oil and lemon. The brand name is Lepo. It is worth looking for, if it is available anywhere else.
Here is the back view of the Ponte Vecchio. I liked it because you can see lights on in the stores.
Adele told me about another shop that had excellent leather and fair prices that is actually on the Ponte Vecchio. I had always ignored the shops there because the prices are always inflated. This is the only leather store on the bridge and the people who run it are very nice. It is called Mannelli. I’m sorry if today’s blog seems like a commercial. I was just so happy to get these tips from Adele, that I wanted to share them, if you are ever in Florence. It’s hard to know where the good shops are. I would never have found the olive oil shop in Piazza Del Limbo, for example, and I walk around a lot.
Here is one of my favorite churches, Santo Spirito. I like the simplicity of the shape. Evidently, so did an artist named Mario Mariotti. I think I read about a contest he conducted where people used the outside shape of the church and made their own designs. I just found a link to a website that shows the presentation of the drawings as projections on the outside of the church. http://www.mariomariotti.com/page45/page42/page42.html
There is a bar in the same piazza as the church with some of the pictures from the contest on the wall. They are all collected in a book about the Concorso S. Spirito. Here is the church and some of the pictures on the wall of the bar.
I finished up the day at the OK Bar, checking my email and Facebook. Here are my two friends, Favio and Reynaldo, wearing costumes for Halloween. I was taking pictures of them and Reynaldo suggested a picture with the three of us.
I like this picture of the two of them in their Halloween attire.
The owner, Cristina, was there today and we were so happy to see each other. She showed me how she still has the drawings I gave her last year and I told her that the cups she gave me are in my kitchen window. Her family came for Sunday lunch and here she is with her daughter and son, showing them the drawings I had just given her.
I asked if I could buy one of the “OK Bar” aprons, and she refused to let me pay for it. And she treated me to lunch. I remember last year walking away after saying goodbye with a lump in my throat. I felt the same way today. They are such nice people. Reynaldo asked me to send him the pictures on Facebook, so we became Facebook friends and I did. He carries his BlackBerry around and constantly refers to it, but he is eager to buy an iPhone 4.
I am back at the OK Bar on Monday, November 1, posting everything before I go home. I just watched a very old program of Ugly Betty on TV here. I saw a woman with a jacket with “Famous” written on the back, and I had a wonderful and long conversation with three people from Santa Clara (Orlando, Teri, and Debi) who sat down beside me. We decided we like how people talk to strangers here and want to keep it up at home. Orlando took a cooking class here that sounded interesting. They invited me to dinner when we all get back.
I will finish up my blog when I get home. I have some times in Venice that were skipped and I want to make some final remarks. I’ve enjoyed all your comments. It feels like you have been along on the trip!