As promised, I am here in in my “office” at the National, ready to catch you up on the final week of my Italian adventures. (This is my view. I am tucked up in a cozy corner on the third floor)
I had a lovely Thanksgiving, if it wasn’t exactly traditional. I met up with my co-worker from Disney, Ken and his wife Jocelyn, for dinner here at the South Bank and then we hopped to another pub nearby that came with a spectacular view of the Thames and an exceedingly friendly drunk named Paul. Paul was a lawyer, and he was oddly eager to inform us that he “…just went to a shitty state school, I’m not one of those posh lawyers.” “Paul the plebeian” also had some very strong views on our recent election and his own country’s recent political upheaval…frequently blurting out…(and I quote)…” Trump. FUCK! What? Brexit. SHIT! What? Trump? CHRIST!” He apparently grew very fond of us during our brief time together as when he was finally asked to leave we all received heartfelt (borderline tearful) hugs. Good old Paul…
I was then lucky enough to have second Thanksgiving! Two days later my friends Clive and Haven took me along to a Thanksgiving feast arranged by ex-pat American members of a book club that Haven is a member of. So I got my turkey and gravy after all.
Right! Now, back to Italy. I am going to have to break my last days there into two posts…because I did many things. Now, I already told you about my need for new boots, and I was getting worried because my backup pair are cute but not good for extended pavement pounding. So I went out very determinedly to search for thrift stores…… and promptly got lost. Florence is full of tiny little streets that branch out every which way, and street signs are very hard to read as they are often the exact same color as the wall. It also might have been my tendency to go “Hey, that store/sign/building/ looks neat, I’m going to go that way now!” So I gave up trying to find them and decided to switch tactics and try to *not* find them. In that I was completely successful! I happily turned down every street that looked like it would NOT have a thrift store on it. Eventually I stumbled upon the “Scuola del Cuoio” which is the “School of Leather’. There was a sign on the street with an arrow pointing the direction, so I followed the signs through three or four twisty little back alleyways until I came to a courtyard…one wall of which was all glass windows looking into the student workshops. I watched the students for a bit as they worked their magic and turned tanned pieces of animal hide into the purses, coats and shoes that Florence is famous for. Eventually though, I started to feel a little weird, as I was the only one in the courtyard staring at these people, so I decided to check out the little shop where the work of the students ends up. Maybe they would have inexpensive boots! Sadly,they did not have inexpensive anything. While the prices were way out of my range, I enjoyed perusing the shop and spent a bit of time marveling over the unique details and artistic touches on the leatherwork. I’m pretty sure I suggestively stroked about 50% of the coats. (I have a thing for forest green suede. Are suede bed sheets a thing?)When I finally exited the shop, directly across from me was a door and through the glass I could see a painting on the wall of the Virgin Mary. Thinking it was a part of the Leather School, I opened the door and went in. It was not a part of the leather school. As I roamed about inside, I realized fairly quickly I had just gone in the back entrance of the Basilica di Santa Croce…bypassing the 8 euro entrance fee. Whoops! (In my defense, there are Virgin Mary’s everywhere in Florence. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Virgin Mary. She is even occasionally found in the toilet. Not my fault.)
The Basilica di Santa Croce is a pretty big deal. It’s more than just a big ass church. (That is what ‘basilica means in the original Latin…’big ass church’) It is also home to the tombs of some fairly prestigious Italian notaries…such as Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli and is just damn gorgeous in its own right. So I spent about an hour there, ogling the art and marble tombs. Eventually I had ogled everything one could ogle …and finally found the “proper” entrance/exit. I came out into a square and had no friggin clue where I was. No worries though. One nice thing about Florence is that even if you are totally lost… as long as you can find the river Arno, you can sort yourself out. I would have kept wandering longer but it was getting dark and had begun to rain…and I was hungry…so I found the Arno and began the 40 minute walk back to my flat.
Even though I didn’t find any boots, I considered the day an unqualified success! Although, in truth, I think any day that you are alive and in Florence, Italy can be deemed a success. I have pics below from my day. Next post, Part 2 of ‘My last days in Florence”, I shall cover my exploration of the Uffizi Gallery and continue the gripping saga of the “Great boot hunt of 2016”.
The rest of the pics below are from my walk home.