On our first day in Florence, I decided to ditch the tour and was joined by Luke (who’s been to Florence before) and Jeff (who was just sick of the whisper device). We spent the morning walking around the city, just seeing the sights and taking a few pictures.

We then went to my beloved Oil Shoppe for lunch. (That’s Alberto on the left!) I was surprised at how much it’s commercialized since I left — now you pick a sandwich from the list (in English) on a board, with substitutions, if you’d like, and he makes it. The bags are no longer plain but emblazoned with the logo, and they now cost 3.50 Euro (as opposed to 3). But the sandwiches were still delicious.

Also, Alberto was thrilled to hear that I was a customer from way back in fall 2004. His face lit up, actually. It was nice. I chatted with him about all the changes and he told me that he’s always working on improvements! Above all, I pray that this doesn’t become a chain. The Oil Shoppe is what it is because of Alberto.

The three of us then bought a bottle of wine and sat on the steps of Santa Croce, right by my old apartment (where Erika Ludwig lived when she studied in Florence over the summer — she was in my room!!!!). It was so great.

I don’t know what was so great about this day. It clearly wasn’t the most adrenaline-filled experience or the most beautiful setting. But it felt so wonderful to just be in Florence, to just sit right on the Santa Croce steps, to drink (amazing) wine for so cheap, and to be back where I spent the happiest four months of my life.

We proceded to drink two more bottles of red wine that afternoon. You can see the purple evidence on the insides of our lips.