There was an afternoon I walked the streets of Florence by myself. Maybe it was that last espresso; I was energetic and wanted to shop a little. Spoke took a break. He's such a perceptive guy though, and a selfless guy; I'm sure he sensed I needed to hit the cobblestones alone for a couple of hours.
I walked, pretending I belonged. Dressed in my standard attire; black pants, black leather shoes, and carrying a chic bag, I hoped to look like the expat I longed to be.
I fooled no one but myself.
I did some window shopping until the stores reopened, as they do after the long lunch.
I walked into a leather goods shop, Bojola, on via dei Rondinelli. I walked out with a zippered 'banker's bag' for Spoke.
I explored narrow streets off the main paths, away from Gucci and Ferragamo. There's little foot traffic and you come across the most interesting shops.
A few days earlier, Spoke and I found ourselves in such a shop; Giulio Giannini e Faglio. They sell leather desk accessories and the marbled stationery Florence is known for, as well as some unusual things.
We bought these whimsical, handmade, handpainted, ceramic marbles. Marmi, marbles are called in Italian.
I keep them in a dish, and every so often, I pick a lucky one to sit with the bear on the desk. What a daily reminder of a glorious afternoon in Florence; a colorful, Italian marble, offered to me by a bear with wings.....
Next I walked toward the Piazza della Repubblica, a large piazza, where people flock like pigeons to the very famous Gilli. (It was a favorite cafe of the late Ismail Merchant during the filming of A Room with a View, he said in his book, Ismail Merchant's Florence.)
By luck, I found the nearby art supply shop we had passed another afternoon. I wanted to buy something for my sister, hoping to inspire her to paint again. I chose a beautiful oil brush then spent some time in the store, watching artists come and go.
The sun sets as early as 4:30 in the winter, so I headed back. There would be time for a foot rub and a glass (or two or three) of wine before Spoke and I once again stepped out of the hotel and into the night, in this city that I so love.