So, to get right into it, we flew to Florence by way of Paris and landed on Wednesday. Got to our hotel by a little after lunchtime.
The hotel was probably the nicest European hotel we've stayed in so far - inexpensive (60 euros per night for shared bath) and shabby around the edges, but right smack in the center of everything, which is what matters to me - I'd rather have location than amenities any day, so long as the door locks and the sheets are clean.
It wasn't a room with a view, but the lobby and the lounge overlooked the Arno, so that was close enough for me.
Once we dropped our bags in the room, we ventured out to explore. The nearest corner was Via Tuornobuoni, which turns out to be the street with the priciest fashions in town. I've never seen so many designer names together outside of the September issue of Vogue.
For example: the two corners of our street were anchored by Ermengildo Zegna (yummy menswear!) and Salvatore Ferragamo.
From there, the embarrassment of riches continued on with Armani, Prada, Gucci, Pucci, Gaultier, Missoni (2 stores), Alberta Ferretti, Hermes, Tiffany's, Sisley, Bulgari (2 stores) Tommy Hilfiger (looking very American and out of place) and more names than my boggled brain can retain.
So what does one do when confronted with more fashion than one knows what to do with? Well, if the choice doesn't include bringing it all home, one whips out the camera, that's what one does, and takes pictures of store windows which will later mystify anyone who looks at the vacation photos without knowing me very well.
I was kind this year; I removed all the fashion photos from the CD containing Mario's vacation pictures. He had trouble explaining those last year when he ran them as a slide show at his weekly department meeting.
We did do more on the first day besides wipe the drool from my chin with the nearest pashmina. We walked over to the Duomo and looked at the Cathedral. It's covered in little slices of pink and white and green marble and looks like someone’s really sick idea of a gingerbread house. We found the Palazzo Vecchio and one of the copies of the David statue. We ate gelato. We wandered through the Piazza della Signoria and looked at all the statues and wondered what it's like to live in basically a 14th century city with a severe traffic problem.
We had dinner. One of the reasons I was excited about going to Florence in October was that it's the season for all things I like to eat: game, mushrooms, truffles. I had fresh porcini mushrooms on everything it's possible to eat them with.
That first night’s dinner was in a little restaurant near the Ponte Vecchio called, with staggering originality, the Ristorante Ponte Vecchio. Tourist location, but not tourist food. The customers were about half Italian/half tourist, which is good enough for me. I’d rather go for off-the-beaten path but after an international flight and a day on my feet, 3 blocks from the hotel works just dandy. Dinner was pappardelle with a wild boar sauce (and porcini), followed by rabbit stewed in tomato sauce (and porcini). And a half bottle of chianti.
It was drizzling when we came out, but we still walked a little bit along the Arno before going back to the hotel and passing out cold by 10:00 p.m., trying to adjust ourselves to the new time zone.
The photos in this post: first, an absolutely delicious velvet jacket from Armani. You know how much I want to knock that one off? I don't even think it would be that difficult - it's a piece all about fabric and fit; technically I don't think it would be that complicated.
The second dress is a mystery. I remember taking the photo, and I remember liking the dress, but I don't remember whose it was. Oh, well. I like it anyway.
Next is the Missoni store nearest the hotel. How much do I want that dress in the front, the one with the floor-length scarf? Muchly I want that dress.
The Gaultier. What to say about that? It's like BWOF on steroids - the draping around the neck got me from across the street. Which is not good in a city with unpredictable drivers. Good thing one of us was paying attention.
The Alberta Ferretti pictured at left isn't all that exciting at first glance, but after looking at it, I really liked the high neck with the shoulder/sleeve treatment. The drape to the skirt is interesting. It's just one of those not-exciting-on-the-mannequin dresses that I think would look fabulous on a real body.
So that's day 1. Next up, I promise there will actually be photos that include Florence, although I will say that the first thing I realized when I woke up on day 2 was that it was . . .raining.