I indulge in a week of touring historical landmark’s, absorbing Renaissance art, strolling (today I actually twirled) the cobble-stone streets. As well as standing in awe of magnificent churches and giving in to my own Achilles’ heel: admiring, and or drooling, over handsome Italian men.
Styled to perfection in Armani jackets, brightly coloured sweaters, designer shoes, and my personal favourite, the exquisite wool scarf that envelopes their cologne scented neck’s. As this is MY little fantasy world, in addition, they pick flowers for me in meadows. Open car doors because I love that. Are endlessly entertained by my detailed and somewhat rambling stories, whilst skillfully massaging my tired feet. Until I actually go on a date with one, this romanticized myth of the perfect Italian man stands unchallenged.
Today however for the second time in two days, I meet the opposite of my ideal man. He is the stereotypical Italian male who EVERYONE warned me to be on the lookout for. Local Florentine’s despise these pirañas who give respectable Italians a bad name. Often found loitering in popular tourist areas preying on single women. I experienced run-ins with creeps like him on my previous trip to Florence in 2008. Fortunately, I now have a casual ease in these surroundings and I’m spared the humiliation of their ridiculous one-liners. This schmuck is an unimaginable cliche in white patent leather shoes, Rockin-Republic jeans, slicked back hair, and oversized gold jewelry.
My first encounter with signore Casanova was yesterday while sitting on the steps of the Duomo reading & people-watching. I noticed a man riding a bike, but not just any bike. This one had a motor and fanny-pack… my initial reaction was, you have got to be kidding me!!
Florence is built in a valley and is relatively flat. Even frail 85 year old women ride bikes in their Sunday dresses and designer heels. Casanova noticed me staring at him, mistook it for attraction, and swaggered over, John Wayne style. He sat next to me and launched into an over rehearsed pick-up routine. “Ciao bella, where are you from?” when I refused to respond he continued, “Would you like a personal tour of Florence, or a glass of wine?” As it was mid-morning, I reacted to his offer with sarcasm. “You drink wine at 10 in the morning do you?” He laughed, and without missing a beat attempted to woo me by complimenting me on my sense of humour. I held my hand haltingly between us, ceasing his pathetic advances, and responded with a “NO.. grazie“. Dropping my fingers slightly toward my palm, I shooed him out of my personal space, then lowered my head and continued reading. After what seemed like a minute of him staring blankly at the side of my head, he slithered away leaving a trail of slime on the marble steps.
Now today out of the corner of my eye I see a motorized bike weaving in and out of the stream of tourist before me. Recognizing him from yesterday, I avoid the possibility of eye contact by turning my attention to the book in my lap. After several petrol-guzzling passes he parks his “sissy-bike” ten feet to my left and makes his way up the steps that line the front of the Duomo.
My spidey-senses are alerted to his juvenile pacing behind me. I wrongly assume he is attempting to hit on the woman to my left, and because of my no-nonsense “shut-down” yesterday I assume he is self-conscious. He sits to my right several feet away, then slowly inches his way closer to me. Lowering my head even further, I allow my hair to tumble around my face creating a false veil of privacy. To no avail, as within a minute he is sitting less than five inches from me. He sighs heavy and speaks to no one in particular, “What a beautiful day!” I continue reading and turn my back to him slightly, feeling the need for a shower. He leans forward with a overly-whitened grin and a “Ciao bella, where are you from?” He ignores the obvious bewilderment on my face and plows ahead like a cretin “Would you like a personal tour of Florence, and afterward I’ll buy you an espresso?”
OH MY GOD!!! With astonishment I ask him if he remembers me from yesterday, same place, same time, same tattered pick-up line. He moves his head rhythmically like a bobble-head-doll and answers me with a confused “And you said NO??” Aaaarrrgggghhhh!!!
next week: I GET OUT OF THE CAB – part 1