A fleeting, Florentine romance

I remember my summer in Florence.

It was nearing the end of my vacation. I was walking along the Ponte Vecchio and suddenly a small dog ran out of one of the shops. A beautiful woman came chasing after him. I stood silent as I watched her pick him up, in awe of her elegance.  Her dress was simple and her Titian hair had a soft, natural wave.

I approached to help with the dog as she picked him up, and our eyes met for a moment. I followed her into the shop and, as she went behind the counter, I asked about the shirts on display. She knew what I was up to and I couldn’t hide it. She refused to engage. I left the shop knowing I would return with a plan.

The author and Mima share a kiss on her birthday in Florence. Courtesy Brian Toohey.

The next day, I waited for her to close the shop. It seemed like it took forever. Suddenly, another woman appeared outside and, as the woman I came to see closed the shop, they started to leave together. 

I quickly approached and introduced myself.  With her friend present, she was now comfortable enough to engage just a bit, so I put it to her.  “Please excuse me. I am visiting from New York and it is my last night in Florence. I love this city, but I am alone. It would be so nice if you could spend the evening showing me around, perhaps a dinner followed by a walk.” She was resistant at first, but her friend said, “Mima, just go. He is a nice man, just go have dinner.” Mima looked at her friend Laura and then back at me and said, “Yes.”  We planned to meet at the Uffizi Gallery in the Piazza della Signoria. I stood near the statue of David waiting for her.  

The sun was setting behind the buildings and pigeons filled the square. Then Mima appeared.  She walked across the piazza, backlit by the sun, as the birds parted. Our eyes locked. She put her arm through mine and, without a word, we walked together into the night.

The chemistry between us spoke a language of its own.  We found a small restaurant.  There was a peace and comfort between us.  The mood was set for a magical evening.  After dinner, we walked along the Arno River. It was a perfect night — a warm breeze and a full moon vying with the streetlamps’ golden hue.

“I want to take you to the hill above Florence called Fiesole,” Mima said. “It’s just across the river.” 

Pausing on the bridge over the Arno, she turned to me and we kissed, as if we had known each other long before. Perhaps we did. The stairway to Fiesole is long, with many landings. We stopped on each to embrace. At the top was a small café. There were lanterns strung along the balcony. We could see all of Florence with its golden light lifting into the night sky.

The passion between us was growing as we descended the stairway back to the bridge. We crossed the Arno in silence. There was a bit of melancholy as we knew the night was going to end. 

On the other side of the bridge was a fountain outside the Hotel Balestri, where I was staying.  We sat at the edge of the fountain, its spray filling the silence.

“Mima, come and stay with me tonight,” I said. “This is where I am staying.” 

“Oh no, I couldn’t do that,” she said. I respected her wish, for a moment, then said, “This is too magical and beautiful a night. It is my last here. Let’s not lose this moment.”  

 After a long silence, she stood up and walked into the Balestri. I can still remember the way she carried herself — with quiet dignity and poise, trusting in the time we were in. We never slept that night and the only light was from the reflection of the marble shower as the steam lingered into the night. When daylight broke, Mima prepared my things for our trip to the train station. I was on my way to the South of France.

I can still remember the musical sounds of the porters as they called out to each other while they wheeled the baggage carts. It was like opera. Mima helped me settle into my compartment and, as the train pulled away, she walked along with it. This is just the way it happened. We never stopped looking toward each other.

I spent two days in the South of France, changed all my plans and hopped on a plane to head back to Florence. It was Mima’s birthday and, while she was at work, I prepared a surprise party with Laura, her roommate. I lavished her with gifts. She cried — and then moved in next to me to offer the kiss you see in the photo above. 

Visit Brian at Warren Tricomi Salon, 1 E. Putnam Ave., Greenwich. To book an appointment with him, call 212-262-8899.

CHOOSING HAIR COLOR FOR A JEWEL EFFECT

The last sight I remember of Mima was her red hair as she faded into the distance. Mima’s hair was so beautiful with its natural wave.  Your haircut should always make your style appear effortless. As I have always maintained, the style should have movement. With a good cut, it should swing into shape as you move. This can define your individual style. 

Mima’s color was a gorgeous deep red, so perfect against her porcelain skin and green eyes.

The right color combination of your skin tone, eyes and hair can create a jewel-like effect.  Achieving this result requires a studied eye.  Look carefully at your skin tone and the color of your eyes. Examine the palm of your hand. Its tone will reveal whether you are more compatible with cool or warm tones. If it’s pink, it is cool. If it’s olive, it is warm. In between is neutral. 

Before you talk to your stylist, spend some time with these ideas. This will help you to form the image that most suits you. 

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