Before arriving in Florence, I did my fair share of digital recon work. I picked out a few of the expat blogs to read, I downloaded the travel applications, scoured for tips. I wanted to be that savvy tourist who fits effortlessly in with the locals and is in the know for all the best places to go, eat and drink. However, that all turned out to be a load of wishful old tosh - as soon as I arrived, those lists went promptly out of the window.
I didn't care about the best, I no longer wanted the most trendy nor the most recent, I just wanted everything. I was like a kid in a sweet shop, round-eyed, jaw down to the ground, gasping for breath at every turn. I took in everything that came my way. the gelati, coffees, and not to mention all the pasticceria. I was having to consciously slow the pace of my walking because otherwise I'd have been breaking into a run.
As I write this, I've spent the morning being awed, stunned and silenced by the Duomo, the Piazza Signioria, the bridges along the river. I haven't taken this many photos in a long time and I'm already dreading the moment I come to upload and sort through them all. I'm now sitting at a restaurant in the Piazza della Republica, nursing a vin santo and an enormous plate of biscotti.
I'm watching the charade of waiters bustling for trade in the piazza, the old woman selling balloons by the carousel, and the beautiful, flowing hair and the groomed stubble of the man who charmed me to this tourist trap restaurant in the first place.
I get talking to a couple of the other diners - a Finnish new mum and her four month old baby, a Dutch antique furniture restorer who's in Florence for a course. I get chatted up by a doctor from the heel of Italy who talks to me about the soul of this, his favourite, city; by a judo teacher who's coming to Paris next week for a competition of some sort. I feel free and totally self-confident. The Italian men have mastered the art of making small talk with women much better than the French. While I'm sitting there, I realise that I haven't been this happy in a long time.
ADDENDUM: That man with the gorgeous hair approaches me at the end of my meal, once I've re-applied my new red lipstick, and introduces himself as the manager of the restaurant. He asks what I'm doing later. If I'd like to meet him once his shift is over, and, maybe, *pause* get a cappuccino?
Cappuchiiiino. I don't think anyone has ever made that word sound so erotic. I bite my lip as I consider the possibilities. Just one cappuccino has never hurt anyone, has it? Four o'clock in the afternoon is a pretty sensible time for a drink too... but I get the feeling he'd like to teach me the kind of Italian that's not in the dictionary. My insides turn into the froth of that would-be cappuccino just with the thought of it. He compliments me again. My God, he's handsome. I wish I had a photo to share with you, my bloggies. It takes every strength I have to say no. The rest of the city is still waiting to be discovered, but today will be remembered as the day that I walked round Florence wearing a flowing red dress.