Visiting Florence, one thinks about the wonderful museums, the stunning Tuscan-countryside surrounds, the shopping and the food (and the wine, and the coffee… we could go on!).
However, one of the things not listed in the guide books, and which makes actual living here so magical is interaction with the locals. Funny, reserved or friendly, charming, polite (or otherwise!), it is the characters of Florence, and of Italy, that make you smile when you think back to your time in Italy long after your fabulous Italian leather boots have worn out ? and that’s a really long time!
We wanted to share with you this lovely story of what happened recently to one woman who is lucky to call Florence home. It is the true story of how a wonderful gesture from a nice local can turn a negative thing into something extra special, a priceless gift for anyone.
It was a glorious Autumn day in Florence (but then, isn’t every day glorious in Florence?). The woman did her best not to take her eyes off the road to steal a glimpse at the next bridge down, at the famous and stunning Ponte Vecchio, as she rode her bicycle across the Ponte Santa Trinita bridge.
Carefully steering over her heavily-pregnant belly and with her 2-year old safely strapped into the child-seat on the back, the woman was heading to her favourite local fruit shop, as she did each day, to purchase the freshest of local ingredients to prepare her family’s lunch and dinner.
As she carefully positioned her bike on the narrow walkway outside the fruit and veg store, she placed her bag in the basket at the front of her bike so as to hold onto the bike and greet the shopkeeper who, in the traditional way of Tuscany, personally and ever so carefully selected each grocery item she requested.
Distracted with the aromatic display of the freshest of in-season produce before her, the woman did not notice the man approaching her. She did notice however when he snatched her bag, and ran away down the cobbled street!
But with bike, baby and belly, she was in no condition to give chase.
The fruiterer however, without pause for thought, pushed past the woman and gallantly galloped after the thief. Zigzagging through the traffic, racing down laneways and finally nearing the Piazza Santa Spirito, the thief realised the fruiterer was still in hot pursuit, so took the money from the woman’s purse and then threw the rest aside.
The fruiter stopped running to collect the bag, and his breath, and return back to the store and the woman.
As he handed over the bag to the distressed but ever-so-grateful woman, he responded to her heart-felt thanks with the modest shrug, saying ‘di niente’ (‘it’s nothing’).
Hearing this story, the next time one of the Artviva staff was in the store (as she also is frequently, being that she lives nearby), she congratulated the fruiterer for his heroics.
Upon mention of the event, the man bowed his head, blushed and said modestly, ‘Oh, basta con questa storia! Non è niente di speciale.’ (Enough with this story! It’s nothing special.)
Being a family-run store, his relatives were on-hand to make fun of him in that typical and funny Tuscan way, ‘Yes, he is nothing special ? you’d be better off talking about the beans!’, they said laughingly.
Artviva is comprised of locals who are both historically Tuscan and more newly decidedly so, and all of us would like to take this opportunity to thank the special people who live here, who bring smiles to our faces be it with simple gestures like remembering how we take our coffee, to the greater heroes in our lives who go that extra mile (sometimes even literally, as in this case above!) to make living in such a beautiful city even more magical!
Frutta Ed Ortaggi
Borgo S. Jacopo, 63/R.