20130917-125022.jpgCousin Verdine and Linda got on the train to Venezia (Venice) yesterday morning for two days and a night. A comical train service assistant showed them how to purchase tickets from a machine that spoke in English, in much the same way a GPS talks to you.
We decided to rendezvous tonight at a certain restaurant near the train station in Florence for dinner before coming back to the villa. Our reservations include places for my friends Richard and Lynn, who I look forward to see.
Richard was in my painting group in Hawaii before he moved to California. He is the former Chief Justice of the State of Washington and worked in Hawaii too. Currently he is teaching for Gonzaga University in Florence. Cousin Verdine is a former public defender of Maui county. I think it will be fun for the two of them to meet – in Italy!
Yesterday was the first day my husband Pete and I had to ourselves. Group travel, even small group travel like ours, has its challenges and surprises. So it was nice that the two of us had a relaxing time roaming around and making use of the last day of our Firenze Cards.
The Firenze Card is a deal that gets you fast admission to most museums and public transportation within the city center for three consecutive days.
Besides museums and palaces, we stumbled upon a less-traveled street with all of the big-name Italian fashion houses and enjoyed window shopping.

My favorite was the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum with his famous collection of shoe designs and especially the screening of an excellent film “White Shoe” by Mauro Borelli that tells, without any words or dialogue, the story of how Ferragamo became a shoemaker and designer. Beautiful acting, directing, cinematography, and original score. Of course, the best design. A fairy tale come true.
It turns out the world bicycling competition is this Sunday out of Florence. That explains all the pro bicyclists we see riding around the town. Pete had fun flirting with a women’s team; they quipped they would charge one euro to take their photo.
We ate at the same restaurant twice – Boccadama – at the San Croce plaza – well recommended by travel author and guru Rick Steves. The desserts – oh, my goodness. This pear cake came out warm, light, moist, and very flavorful.

Another Rick Steves recommendation was the leather artisan school at the rear of the Santa Croce Church, where you can watch the goods being made and support the school with a purchase. 20130917-134346.jpgHere I am wishing I could afford a bag crafted of ostrich leather. Haha, I have expensive taste. I was happy to buy a pretty red belt instead.