Friday, May 31, 2019

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday...

When the day is finally over and I have some alone time to write, I'm exhausted. I tried, I promise, to write but I inevitably fall asleep at the computer. So my posts are all running late, but here's how our week has gone...

Monday and Tuesday we worked from our photos of Margherita most of the day. Tuesday afternoon and evening were free time for us. Several of us made a bee-line to the Scuola del Cuoio,  the Florence Leather School, at the Monastery of Santa Croce, across the Arno River, just blocks from where we are staying. We had been told by our tour guides that much of the leather sold on the streets is inferior, but quality leather and craftsmanship would be found at the school. The Scuola del Cuoio was founded after World War II by the Franciscan friars of the Monastery and the Gori and Casini families, Florentine leather artisans since the 1930's. Their mission was to give orphans of the war a means to learn a practical trade. Today, students come from all over the world to learn the craft from the school. We had to walk past the Monastery quietly, in obedience to the posted signs, past a small garden, past large windows into which we could see the students busy at work. We climbed some metal stairs into a room heavy with the scent of leather. Counters and displays were full of affordable items: change purses, wallets, decorative boxes,  The larger, more expensive items, jackets, blazers and purses, were down the hall in other rooms.

We wandered around for a while, collecting souvenirs. While Mary Ruth and Patricia were getting things monogrammed, Lydia and I made our way back to the Piti Palace to search for an artist whom we saw days earlier, selling his art on the steps. Much to our relief, he was there. We purchased more little souvenirs and had time to waste before we could meet back up with Mary Ruth and Patricia, who were headed to a kitchen store, which neither Lydia nor I had any interest in whatsoever. We were right around the corner from the Ponte Vecchio, so we took a slow walk up and down the bridge, looking at all the sparkling gold and gems. With more time to kill, we stopped for a glass of wine at a trattoria behind the Duomo, while tourists passed by continually. It began to rain while we were sipping under a canopy; all was perfect. Mary Ruth and Patricia found us and we had a lightweight meal of roasted vegetables and soup. And wine.

On another night, dinner at Boccadarno, musicians on the Ponte Vecchio, gelato, and a nighttime walk through the dark quiet streets of Firenza.

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