Today we finally have that gloriously beautiful sunshine that’s we’ve been missing for weeks. The umbrella guys turned back into flower guys, and all peace is restored.
So, I’ve been spending every minute of my day outside that I can. While I briefly wait for my laptop to charge back up so that I can do work in the piazza, I thought I’d share a quick story about today.
The San Lorenzo leather markets take up a few streets lined with vendors selling their leather goods, scarves, trinkets and all sorts of souvenirs at their booths. Usually these streets are so congested with tourists and other pedestrians that it’s easy to duck into the crowd at any time. I often do this method when I don’t feel like dealing with the stares and comments from many of the Italian male vendors lining the streets.
Well, the sunshine put me in a great mood today. When I turned the corner and entered the first street of the market, I immediately got a friendly “Ciao.” So I politely smiled and said back, “Ciao.” A few steps later, the next vendor greeted me, “Buon giorno!” Well, I just said hi to that last guy so it’d be rude to just ignore this one, I thought. “Buon giorno,” I replied. A few steps later and again, I get a “ciao.” Then a “hi” from another. Followed by a “ciao, bella” from the next. And as I am automatically responding to each of these individual vendors as I walk through, I suddenly understand why this felt so weird and abnormal: I was basically the only person walking down the street. Where the hell is the giant crowd? It definitely was awkward enough to implement the duck-into-crowd-and-disappear strategy.
I must’ve turned down the least popular street at an odd moment of little pedestrian activity. At this point I was only maybe halfway through the street. Shit, I’m gonna have to say hi back to every damn person now. “Ciao, bella!” “Ciao.” “Buon giorno!” “Buon giorno…” “He-llooooo” “Hi.” “Aaaah, bella” [shakes head and blushes]. I think they noticed my enthusiasm dwindle as I progressed further on. By time I got to the end of the street, I was laughing, and even some of the vendors were laughing because they saw how absolutely ridiculous this whole episode was. It was the longest walk down one street ever, and the most hilarious one too.