37 BY M A R I D E A R M A S Finding love There are so many places to buy leather in Florence, from luxury boutiques, to busy street bazaars, to private workshops. One of my personal favorite shops is Pierotucci (via Lungo L’Ema 17, Ponte a Ema, Florence). You can easily find it, as it’s only a few minutes from the city center. But its convenient location is only the beginning. Here, they hand craft right in front of your eyes. You are literally invited into their workshop with their master craftsman, where you can watch skilled Italian artisans cut and assemble leather bags, jackets and accessories. They have been producing leather bags and accessories since 1972. You also have not one, but two bustling outdoor markets to explore. The San Lorenzo Market boasts a variety of street vendors and retail stores selling leather items. The beautiful Mercato Nuovo, which has operated as an outdoor marketplace since the Renaissance, overflows with bags, belts, and other leather goods. If you’re a savvy negotiator, you should put your skills to good use here. You will also need to use your expert skills of distinguishing higher quality leather to ensure you make a purchase that is as long-lasting as my attaché case. It was toward the end of the night, a wonderful dinner was had and we were now in the living room. As the final sips of wine were taken, the notion of love at first sight was brought up. Our group went around the co¢ee table and shared their views, which ranged from a resounding rejection of the entire theory to a sweet and serendipitous how-we-met story. When it was my turn, I shared my love-at-first-sight story, which went something like this: It was early spring in Florence and I was strolling through Santa Croce. Weaving through a dizzying number of vendors and enticed by the pervasive smell of fresh leather, I turned a corner and felt Cupid’s arrow pierce my heart when I saw the most beautiful tan attaché case I had ever seen. The same sigh you just made was also echoed by my dinner party friends. But, what my friends are privy to knowing is that same bag has been with me for more than a decade. To know me is to know that bag. It’s practically an extension of my body. I use it every day for work and when I travel. It has held laptops that are now obsolete, yet this bag gets better with age. So, whenever you’re in Florence next, be sure to keep your eyes wide open and get ready to fall in love.