It is nine and you start your day of exploring. You make your way across
the piazza in front of the train station. The day has begun or the city
as well. Too many vehicles on roads too narrow. You cross another street
quickly. You are in the business section of the city. You window shop.
The sidewalk is narrow, disappearing altogether from time to time. You
pass a McDonald's, looking very North American with its counter and plastic
You pass shop after shop. Shoes, leather, clothes, jewellery, furnishings
and anything else you could want. But it is the shoes that seem to be
everywhere. Yes, the Italians certainly have a way with a woman's foot.
It is difficult to miss the stylish young women all around with the high
heels that are perfect for each individual leg, giving each calf just
enough lack. Where were these girls going and why did they all look so
It is almost eleven and you have been walking, stopping and shopping for
almost two hours.
You spot a small cafe with a few tables outside. You need a rest and a
coffee. You pass a newspaper booth and spot a Herald-Tribune. Ah, you
think, an old friend. You buy a copy and then sit down. The waiter is
an older man and arrives quickly. There is no one else sitting outside.
Expresso, you say. He jots something down on a plain piece of paper. He
returns in a quick minute with the small cup of expresso and a large bowl
You flip through the paper and see that it is the same news as last time.
You decide just to look around, sip your coffee and forget that there
is anywhere else. Across the way is a small grocery store. There are fresh
fruits and vegetables stacked outside on an old rough hewn table. An older
woman sits on a stool just outside of the door minding the colourful assembly.
She was heavy and wears old slippers. She talks loudly to the people walking
by and going into the store. You wonder if she was ever like those beautiful
young girls you had seen earlier and did those now broad feet ever know
the look of being in high heels. A customer stands by the stall and looks
over the peppers. The woman stands and bags three of them. She is slow
to get up and you can see the strain as she holds on to the back of her
chair. As she is standing there a pretty young woman skip steps out of
the store. From behind, she puts her arm around the shoulders of the old
woman and hugs her and from the side kisses her lovingly on the cheek
. The woman's hand comes up and caresses her face and she smiles. The
young woman says something and waves. You hear her say, "Ciao mamma!"
You look at her shoes as she walks away. They are slender and high heeled.
You smile to yourself.