Six years ago, I had the opportunity to spend some time in Florence, Italy after photographing a wonderful wedding in Cortona. I spent much of my time wandering the streets of Firenze…. observing… the multi-layered textures, languages from around the globe, scents, character of the stone buildings, walkways, graffiti, remnants/layers of old posters, graffiti – such stimulation for the senses! Tiny shops, limited in space only, housed artisans who share their beautiful creations: jewelry, leathers, hand -fashioned clothing and more. During these wanderings, I stumbled upon a small and most charming organic coffee shop – Caffe Latte. After savoring the best (and very large) latte of my trip, I spent a few hours with the owner, Vanna. We discussed her hopes for peace in Iraq and other parts of the globe, as well as other topics including photography, the history of her store space (an old butcher shop – notice the cow set in the marble bar), vegan food and more. I made some nice images, but what remained were sweet little memories; memories evoked by the little gifts of experience from that day. The black and white image of Vanna standing at the table struck me so, that I have it hanging in my home – unusual, as this photographer simply doesn’t display her work in her home (there are always exceptions!). The photo of Vanna was among several pieces exhibited in my old warehouse space with the paintings of Sarasota artist Cindy Perkins made from the same adventure.
Time passes… I again visited Florence in mid-July. The images shot in 2006 are on a dvd and I set out to find Caffe Latte – not by a Google search (or because I had the foresight following my first visit to actually record the address!), but the original manner of walking those delightful narrow Florentine streets; getting a sense of where I had been; eying the details and the essence of the neighborhood. The peace flag was a giveaway and I entered the space that floats loosely in my memory. The tables, the light fixtures, the peace flag, her apron, Vanna’s glasses and the twinkle in her eyes – fixed in time, as if not one moment had passed. She was ambivalent about the dvd but I left it on the counter, stayed awhile and took a few more images. Toward the end of my visit, Vanna perked up and suggested she could have a friend print the image. I assured her it would be worth the effort. She sat for a couple of snaps. She’s been in the storefront since 1985, serving homemade eats and amazing caffe latte … Perhaps I’ll see her again; perhaps this experience will remain as one of those special memories of a moment (make that moments) in time – brief encounters offering this individual vivid imagery that excited my senses on many levels. I’m grateful for that.
(the first image, bw of Vanna standing, shot in 2006. Enhanced; all others snapped in 2012, unmanipulated, 35mm and iPhone app)