A quick vignette since I am playing catch-up – as mentioned earlier, I am accruing moments of hilarity apace, before I had even decided to start sharing them again. But people. They are so funny. I want to share.
Yes, friends, I immediately played the dumb tourist card.
“Is this the language school?”
“The language school.” I was pretty certain by the doorbell name that I was speaking with an accountant.
“No. But it’s on the primo piano. Here, I’ll buzz you in.”
“GRATZ ee ay.” I was enjoying my role.
Upstairs an open door framed another friendly Italian man, about my age, in suspenders, looking a bit Peewee Herman. He was VERY happy to see me. “Are you here for the language school?”
“Yes…. but I am looking for the Sprachcaffe.” He looked crestfallen. He was clearly waiting for new arrivals, and perhaps angling to do a little cold calling in between. “It is #5 but I can’t find it.”
“Oh! 5! It is just across the square.” Yes, the big, massive square teeming with people. Peewee took me by the elbow to his open window. “It is between the Feltrinelli and the Hard Rock Cafe.”
I thanked him profusely and headed back down the stairs. As I opened the enormous wooden door, a fresh group of tourists with luggage pushed their way in. “Benvenuti!” I greeted them brightly. They all nodded their thanks and filed in – I hoped up the stairs to see the welcoming Peewee.
I made way to the other side of the piazza to the Hard Rock and indeed did find the Sprachcaffe, which was well-signed and in a beautiful palazzo. A woman awaited the elevator. “Are you here for the language school?”
“Yes,” I said. “I’m actually here to check out the office co-op space that was listed online.”
“So… you have spoken to someone from here?”
“Yes – a few times back and forth via email.”
“La Gemma non c’è più.”
“Well, I was speaking with someone named Lara.”
“Ah! La Lara sì c’è.”
In the office Lara shook my hand and showed me the space, which was an enormous and well-appointed salon set apart from their classrooms. It looked fine, but not ideal, given the hectic location, and the available hours from 12-7 due to their teaching schedule (Italian in the mornings, executive English at night.) Their rate? 250 euros per month.
I made my way back to Via La Marmora, where Jason’s office is located. His Italian colleague (from Cortona) let me in. He looked at me with a raised brow. “I’ve just been to Repubblica,” I said.
“What? Why? At this time of day?”
“I know … poor planning. It was packed with tourists.”
He gave me a long look with a crooked grin, clearly assessing my competence, or lack thereof. “You will find that, once you take the tourists out of Florence, there is little left.”