This morning Casella went his way to buy train tickets for Ravenna for next week, and I went my way to do some shopping and looking. I found my way to the Dante statue next to the Santa Croce church:


And found the leather craftsmanship school behind the church, and bought a nice leather bag. Lots of warnings not to buy leather from the street vendors, because a lot of it is Chinese crap. The leather school’s wares are probably more expensive, but you can be assured of the craftsmanhip.

Then I walked across town to pick up James C., our VFYT genius, at the train station. We met Casella at the Mercato Central, drank a bottle of cold Prosecco, and at cheese and salumi. Then we headed over to Caffe Giocosa to meet Jon and Laura Askonas, two Americans on their honeymoon. Jon had been reading my stuff for years, and dropped me an e-mail last night saying he had seen me entering the cathedral in Siena (yes, it was the glasses). We made a plan to meet up for a drink in Florence before they left for home, which, not that Jon is working on a PhD at the university, is Oxford, England. We three guys joined the Askonases for a drink.

Big cultural-political takeaway from that conversation: that a growing number of smart young politically and religiously engaged people no longer believe that there is no conflict between being a faithful Christian and living within the American system. We are going to be seeing more and more of that.

UPDATE: How strange — the last half of this post’s original text seems to have disappeared. Not sure why. It had a photo of James C. and me at Trattoria Sostanza last night. I don’t remember what else. Here’s that shot: