We bumped our way into Florence. The plane sputtered and popped. Unapologetically you heard the gasps and controlled screams as we landed. That ought to have been our first clue as to how the rest of our day would go!
it’s a surreal experience to watch the newly arrived grab their bags from the baggage claim turn table and hurry passed en route to their vacations and to be one of a handful staring at an empty turnstile…peering through the plastic slats to the outside certain this is a mistake! Now we wait in line for the one person in baggage claim to take our details and promise us “it will all work out”.
Mark and I are punch drunk. We’ve been up for 24 hours and fortunately for us and the woman behind the counter at lost and found, we are silly. We chat with the others. We try to help dial down the frustration. We see 3, 4, 5, 6, plane loads of people collect their luggage and leave baggage claim to start their Italian adventure. We are two hours waiting for the one woman sorting out the mess in lost and found to pantomime to us the procedure because her English and our Italian is non existent. Oy vey, I’m too tired for charades.
We thank her for her efforts and her kindness and go in search of a taxi. There are 40 taxis lined up. We jump into Marcos. Marco is a dark and dreamy 26 years old born and raised in Florence man. His English is better than the gal in lost and found but he’s developed a flash card system for dealing with the foreigners he carts around.
from the front seat he holds up a card with his name Marco, with a C. He doesn’t seem to know where our hotel is which makes me anxious until he repeats “don’t worry, don’t worry”. He has kind eyes.
We role up on one hip with each curve he takes too fast and hear our nap sacks rolling in the back. He’s a bit shy but I press. He tells us of the walled city of Florence. He says we are inside the walls. “Very Good, Very good”… we nearly take out a couple of vespas on our right. He doesn’t know Cape Cod but would like to come to Boston some day..
blame it on lack of sleep but I reach between the seats and give Marco a Cape Cod bicycle key chain from Christmas Tree shops with my business card and say “if you ever make it son, you can stay a few nights with us!”
Mark confirms and Marco with a c looks as if he will cry. He is overwhelmed . He drops us at our hotel and is so gracious. “I love my gift” he says as Mark over tips him, shakes his hand and says you’re always welcome.
we’ve known this man 15 minutes. We watch him drive away on what seemed like two wheels, looked at each other and said “we’ve got to stop picking up strays”.
evelyn behind the desk at the hotel tells us she’s very sorry but our room is still being cleaned. “Go have some wine and everything will be well”.
Mark points out that on our bodies it’s only 8 am. “Implying to Evelyn it’s just to early.
Evelyn says in a boisterous redheaded way “Nonsense, Mr Cool you are in Italy now you need to adjust to the time zone, go have some wine, no?”
Exhausted and in our 24 hour clothes we do as we are told and sit at an outdoor cafe across from the Pitti Palace. We sip wine and eat rabbit tortellini. Yum
then he appears, young, handsome, animated and talking with the Somalier … in what sounds like newly learned Italian. Aiden sits with his glass of red wine next to us. I try to leave him alone but, shit, I need to know.
I open with “I like your command of the Italian language.”. He smiles and says thank you -I’m just learning. Mark watches me with trepidation. Aiden tells us he’s in 11th grade at an all Italian school and he’s essentially ran away from Sudbury where the only adult in his life is his mothers x husband. Who flew to Italy for school vacation last week and took him to Barcelona Spain. He is 17. He refers to his mother as complicated and then apologizes to us for drinking wine in front of Americans at his young age.
A plate of food is placed in front of him. He seems surprised. It’s like he’s a stray puppy who the proprietor feels obliged to feed. I ask him what he’s eating… it looks yummy, and he says “I have no idea.”
Aiden is handsome and out going. He says he helps the English teacher at school when she gets stuck. He’s 17 and on his own immersed in this loving culture.
You know how this ends.
We buy his wine for him, the somalier brings out a round of whatever he was eating for us for being so kind to him and Aiden accepts my business card to which he says “ Sotheby’s? You must know my Noni she works for Gibson Sotheby’s in Cambridge…”. Sadly, ber name escapes me but if anyone knows a grandmother wondering about their grandson in Florence…worry no longer, he’s a fine young man.
I expect he’ll be visiting us on Cape Cod in September. I will have to buy the wine.