In our tighty-packed SmartCar, we had more or less been lost every way possible. So after successfully conquering the serpentine streets, there was no better feeling than stepping foot onto Florence’s cobbled streets sans-keys. I’ve never been so happy to twist my ankles. So I was excited to hear that Steph wanted to walk around the city on our first night.
She said she had heard about a restaurant.
It was innocent enough that it begged no questions. She penned a non-descript dot on our map and pointed, “There.” She handed the map to me and off we went.
We wound our way through Florence’s narrow ways towards the mystery circle, all the while, Steph lobbying for the restaurant in curt sentences mired in fog. “My friend told me about it.” “It’s supposed to be great.” “I don’t remember the name.” “I don’t remember the street.” “I don’t remember.” “I don’t remember.” Each sentence wove itself more and more into obscurity and vagueness.
Our host had laid out a handful of great restaurant recommendations. Why should we go to a place that we can’t even place? How about a new plan?
“No,” she’d remark. “It’s around here somewhere. Though I don’t know where it is.”
I was beginning to think we were in [“Lost” spoiler expunged], we had been so lost over the last couple days. Could we please just eat some Florentine something?
She tried to change the subject, anything to shirk the heat with random conversation. “Ever been on a Segway?”
The Italian in me (merely gorgonzola and penne) began to boil. A somewhere that had more ‘where’ than anything was beginning to push me to the brink. We bounced up and down a lonely street that boasted two restaurants, neither of which seemed to jog memories of something that I began to suspect had more fiction than food.
“Do you have a reservation for the tour?” a female hawker popped out of nowhere.
No, we’re just trying to find-
“Yes,” Steph moved toward her and whipped out her ID.
No, Steph, we’re looking for some restaurant that doesn’t exist. Don’t give in to –
A smile crept across Steph’s face, its curve half-proud, quarter-smug, quarter-relieved-I-wasn’t-going-to-end-her.
Before I fully understood what was happening, I was capped in a helmet on a Segway. She had tricked me into guiding us directly to my own surprise. Steph had arranged a private tour of leaning forward through Florence.
There can’t be many better ways to experience Florence at night. The cobblestones undulating beneath us, the twilight hiding the uninteresting and casting moonlight against the stunning, the recorded voices chirping history in our ear. Duomo, Mona Lisa, David, Michelangelo, da Vinci – Florence’s rich history laid out to us by our tour guide… holding an iPad… with a recording… of another tour guide… who I am assuming was taping another tour guide. TVs within TVs within TVs notwithstanding, it was nice having someone to guide us around for once. No vague directions, no tenuous street signs, no pen-pocked maps.
We listened intently to our history lesson… or slalomed our way through columns and tourists. There’s a clear winner when it comes to history versus speed. And this is coming from a guy with a minor in history… and a major in speed.
And it’s that speed that will allow me to get my surprise revenge, Stephanie Sheu.