It’s 17 October, and Cheryl has just left for home, after a whirlwind tour to ALL of the places on her wish list, introductions to my friends here in Florence and nearby, lots of great pasta and Italian food specialties (vin santo and cantuccini!), and visits to Laura in Vicenza and Dario in Panzano. We had a ball—compatible travel styles, sleep schedules, and tastes in food and drink. It’s a gamble to travel for such a long time (a month) with someone for the first time, but this gamble paid off, and I hope for both of us. (Cheryl, let me keep my illusions—delusions–whatever!)
I have been saving this blog for the last—collecting grab shots (nothing too well-done) of Cheryl enjoying the dogs wherever we went. She purchased dog treats at the little pet shop just below our flat, and used the treats to make friends of nearly every dog we encountered, as long as the owners were willing. For her, it was an added dimension to Italy, and it was obvious that she was enjoying the dog contact with her dog, Exchange, so very far away and for such a long time.
Here, in pictures, is a summary of Cheryl’s “dog days” stay here in northern Italy.
Her last morning, a Friday, I took a photo out the window toward the Piazza del Mercato Centrale, with the trucks lining up to stock the butchers and produce stands, as barely any light was in the sky for morning yet.
We were concerned about the transit strikes starting later in the morning, so Cheryl had the cab on its way early, planning to wait at the airport for her flight once her suitcases were checked, and allowing me time to get back to Florence by bus before the systems shut down at nine in the morning. The cab was in the piazza immediately after we called, but I had left my camera upstairs, so Cheryl held the cab while I sprinted up to get my camera for a final shot, but not a good one, I’m afraid.
Too little light, a long shutter speed to blur the shot, and no time to reset the camera to use a flash. We just loaded up her bags and got a mild trip (no traffic) to the airport, where the one bag that had Cheryl worried about coming open in transit was wrapped with a plastic wrap at the airport, giving her confidence that she would not have to see all of her clothing going around the carousel when she claimed her bags in Denver for U.S. customs inspections.
Cheryl treated me to a cappuccino and fresh orange juice (What nasty, bitter stuff!), and we sat down and soon had to defend our table from an Italian flight crew who thought they were more deserving (ignoring our things already at the table). Then, spotting a poster for the “morning special” for 4 Euro, which was cappuccino, juice and a croissant for the same price we had paid without the croissant, I tried to score us free croissants, but the waiter was indignant that I would even ask. Had I ORDERED the special, he said, I would be entitled. But I got what I had ordered, and that was that. Oh, well!
Cheryl was off through security with her new paperback about the life of Artemisia, a woman artist from Renaissance Florence, and I caught the bus back to town, with only one other passenger at that early hour. A German woman was just arriving for a holiday, but had no idea about the strike, and didn’t speak Italian. I overheard her trying in German and English to get information on how to get to her destination, so I interrupted to give her the information I had. When we arrived at the train station on the bus, I took her inside to show her that all trains were stopped after 9 a.m., and she would need to go by bus.
I had spoken with the SITA bus driver the day before about the strike, and he mentioned that his company would not be striking, so I walked her over to the SITA station and helped her to get a bus ticket to the small town about 30 km. away where she was planning on staying—the ONLY way to get there without a car or an expensive cab ride. Her English was relatively good, and she called me “her angel,” because I talked her and walked her through the problems of the strike to get her on her way, including finding her a pastry shop for a snack while she waited for her bus. It was just good timing for me, with nothing on my schedule, to come to her rescue with the bits of information that I could share with her and plenty of time to make sure that she got transport to her vacation destination on the day of a national transit strike.
A good topping to a great visit and trip with Cheryl, and off to my own devices for the next few weeks! Oh, and a nap! Subito! (Right away!)