This image was taken 4 years ago in Florence. It was on a trip I took with mum to celebrate my 40th birthday. The plan was to turn 40 in Venice so this was the week just before when I was still a mere 39. As much as my heart lies in Venice, Florence runs a pretty close second. It is a beautiful city and just the right size to really see and savour it, as opposed to a city the size of, say, Rome or Paris, which can completely overwhelm.
This day we had just been perusing the church of Santa Maria Novella and I was trying to remember how to find the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella (the Old Pharmacy). I had in my head it was right next door to the church but actually it is around the corner in the next street. Memory likes to play tricks like that. Anyway, a bit tired an frustrated we decided to stop for a coffee before continuing to search and this is what we saw.
Clearly someone was in desperate need of a coffee but reluctant to waste his ciggie so left it safely perched while he rushed inside. You can do that in Italy as the coffee culture is entirely different to here. Here we sit in coffee shops for hours chatting over our Caffe` Lattes while in Italian bars coffee is a quick stand up affair. And while we're at it, our Cafe Lattes are entirely different beast to the Italian version. Their's is most definitely a breakfast beverage, all milky and weak and often in a long glass while ours is a robust (depending on your preferance, of course) nicely flavoured hit of caffeine. When I'm in Italy I steer well clear of the Caffe` Latte and usually opt for a Caffe` Macchiato, a bit too strong for my liking but does the trick caffeine-wise! I wonder what they'd do if I one day asked for a Caffe` Latte with two or three shots of espresso? They'd definitely think I was mental as the Italians can be very, very particular about messing with their national cuisine. I once nearly had a chilli practically slapped out of my hand because it doesn't go with mushrooms, don't you know?!
Anyway, I rather enjoyed this sight of the cigarette waiting patiently for it's owner outside the bar. In fact, I was mightily impressed it's owner had even opted to leave it outside as the Italians are not exactly known for their adherence to rules and regs that don't suit them. Revived after our coffees, I managed to relocate the stunningly beautiful and ancient pharmacy where we spent a fourtune on gorgoeus soaps and drank in the stunning surrounds. I highly reccommend a look at their website (if you can't get there in person!) as it is really quite gorgeous and very interesting.