I don't seem to have the skills to slow the tempo down for you so that you can experience the wonders of coming out of the dark days of winter and into the shiny, clear, spring light. The first thing I do these days, when I wake up in the morning, is to look up at Monte Acuto and see what shade of green is showing off for us. Monte Acuto is the largest hill that looms over the town. In the winter and during the Easter season there is a large blue cross that is lit on its summit. It is always a joy for me to see.
In Umbria we are always conscious of the passing of the seasons. The little vegetable garden, or "orto" out our rear window tells us exactly where we are in the season. The old couple who tend this work hard all year, but the work seems particularly arduous in spring.
I have been so enamored of spring this year, in spite of allergies, that I really could think of nothing to do but walk in the fields, admire the red poppies that straggle across the stone walls and lament how quickly cherry blossoms come to life and die. And really, how interesting could this be to you day after day?
And so a brief update. A brother came to visit, a niece got married, we took a trip to Siena with dear friends and Easter came and went.
And then my dear friend from California showed up and we spent 2 glorious days shopping in Florence. We had a ball. We had each day carefully planned as we meticulously followed the advise of The Cognoscenti"s Guide to Florence which I highly recommend.
The book is divided into 8 differnt walks from the Centro Storico to Santo Spirito. Each walk comes with a map, MOST helpful, and recommendations for stores and places to eat along the walk.
We saw over 25 shops in 2 days. Each shop was a true artigiana shop, not a big box chain store.
We loved and bought socks at Quercioli e Lucherini. We admired the lush materials at Passamaneria Valmar. (We skipped the men's store recommendations and the children's stores and the food stores. We were focused. We also skipped perfume and soap stores as my friend has allergies. ) Anyway, we had more than enough to see and it was really fun to follow the map to find these places. Like and old fashion treasure hunt when you were a kid. One of the stores that I loved is Falsi Gioielli...or fake jewellery. The jewelry is created with vintage buttons, crystal, and or plexiglass. It is fun and whimsical.
The owner was delightful and worked along as she talked to us.
At another extreme end of the spectrum is Taddei. The shop is owned and operated by Simone Taddei following the tradition of his father and grandfather making exquisite leather boxes.
As you can see from his studio, not much has changed over the years. Simone is a character and we spent quite a bit of time with him.
Along the way, we came across this "take away" place. We didn't eat there but we loved the window display.
I have been lucky enough to have visited Florence many, many times. All in all I think this was one of my best visits. It certainly was the one filled with the most laughter.
I hope that if you are planning a trip to Florence, and love to shop, you get this book and let it guide you to Florence from a different persepctive.