Bossy and I almost turned around when the thunderclouds opened up on us as we exited Firenze Certosa off the A-1 (the wrong exit, by the way, but more on that some other time); we were both wearing flimsy sundresses, after all, which had seemed like a perfectly appropriate sartorial decision to make for a mid-August excursion in land-locked Italy. It had been unseasonably comfortable in Umbria, but there was no reason to think it would be 60 degrees and rainy, unless, of course, either one of us had actually bothered to check the weather report.
But we had a two-fold mission for the day-- to pick up a painting for the owner of the villa we had taken over (Bossy’s sometime Boss, the Contessa di Mozzarella), and to have lunch with a fabulous artisanal food exporter, let’s call him the Baron of Borgo de’ Greci, whom Bossy had been provided with a cursory introduction to through mutual friends.
I suggested we turn right back around to Panicale as soon as we finished our errands, as this was not a proper introduction to the city due to my lack of a sweater and wellies. Bossy suggested that my “creature comfort needs” were a little “needy”.
But anyway, we managed to find our windy way into the parking lot of the train station and into the back of a taxi right as the rain REALLY started, and I have to say it was kind of magical, if not a bit cold.
We darted from the cab into the artist’s studio, Luca (there is no website for me to give right here, my apologies) in the left bank on Via de’ Serragli and I had a heart attack as soon as I saw all the contents-- Italian versions, better versions, of the beautiful industrial detritus that I have collected in my LA loft, scattered between the artist’s paintings of umbrellas. Which was super fitting at that particularly soggy moment.
Luca wrapped up the painting in a triple layer of bubble wrap and tape and called us a cab, which turned out to be a Prius that seemed completely alien in the midst of this rainy, medieval city.
But off we went on our environmentally-friendly way, anyway, towards the palazzo of the Baron of the Borgo and whatever it would be that was waiting for us on the other side of the gigantic, ancient wooden doors. Well, we did have two glasses of prosecco at a touristy cafe at the end of the block first, to be truthful, remarkable only because of how funny it was to see a row of maybe seven Asian tourists all eating spaghetti with some kind of weird synchronicity in total silence up against a wall. I thought I might be drunk already, or quite possibly tripping on ‘shrooms.
But back to the doors...
When we arrived for real at our lunch destination, it turned out that behind them was a black haired beefcake from New York (or just “Beefcake”, as I like to think of him, consort to the Baron of the Borgo). Beefcake muscled open the door and led us upstairs to a flat that was, at one time, home to Catherine de’ Medici, or at least I like to think it was, and to a feast of an Italian lunch on a farm table. The Baron showed us all sorts of dried pastas from Abruzzo that he exports, ones that I’ve seen on the shelves of my favorite stores in the states, and I have to say I developed a hard and fast crush right there right next to the salami finocchiona. I plotzed.
As for our lunch, there was no soup, but there were beautifully simple and elegant plates of vegetables and greens, meats and pecorino cheeses, bowls of pastas and bottles of wine. All of this lovingly prepared by the Baron and the Beefcake, two people who had never met the soaked pair of blondes (one plain Bossy, one just Blonde) that stood before them.
I felt like the luckiest duck in the pond. Bossy and I ate the most delicious lunch with two of the most entertaining and elegant men in Florence-- what’s better than that, right? Well, gelato is even better than that, and I got some of that, too.
And after a lot of conversation about food, mutual acquaintances and protein powder (he didn’t become Beefcake from eating food, duh), we air kissed our new best friends goodbye, walked towards the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella which, true to our misadventures in Italy was CLOSED, and therefore of no use to my credit card. But whatever, the sun had finally come out.
And it shone the whole way back to Panicale.