We have spent the last coupled-days in and around Florence. We arrived on Wednesday after having a long and relaxing lunch at a winery. The pasta was nice and the wine was excellent.
Yesterday we planned to spend some time looking at the sights of Florence, but, Jill didn’t come as it was a long way to walk and it would be difficult with her crook knee. My time with the group was short lived as I discovered that both the camera batteries that I had with me were flat. That left Ruth to continue on with the group tour. I came back the hotel to get a new battery and Jill decided to come with me in the hotel shuttle bus for a walk through the shops. We had a leisurely day shopping and sight seeing. I also found the shop where I had bought a leather jacket on a previous trip and the very and smooth personable salesman convinced me that I needed another baaed on this season’s fashion style.
Now to the highlight of the day – one of those chance encounters that makes your whole day – a ride in the toy taxi.
Jill and I decided to catch a taxi back to the hotel from the station and up came a car that took us a couple of seconds to realise that it really was a taxi. It was a white PT Cruiser covered in butterfly and flower stickers and driven by an attractive woman wearing a huge hat with large artificial roses and a very bright scarf. He looked a bit like a female version of the mad hatter from Alice in Wonderland. We climbed in to the back seat and found that the car was a colourful as the driver.
Every seat in the car was done in different coloured leather – green, yellow, orange and blue. The rear window ledge was full of softy toys and there was a ukulele on the back seat. The stereo was playing classical music and the DVD was showing a sideshow of the drivers adventures when she had driven her taxi to Russia.
Later on a Google search, I found that our driver’s name was Catterina Bellandi. During our ride, she explained that her husband had died of cancer six years ago and that she had taken over his taxi licence. She now saw her priority as making a difference to people’s lives. She gives free rides to sick children and visits them in hospital.Her trip to St Petersburg was to work with a doctor to entertain children with cancer.
Catterina was hurrying to get to her next appointment, so she dropped us off at the hotel far too quickly and with a flourish and a toot on her musical horn, she headed off down the road. We stood in the carp ark grinning and not quite sure as to whether we could really believe the encounter that we had just had. She surely made a positive impact on our day!