22 May, 2001
...I get off the mainstream by the Piazza Della Republica and head down side streets where Italians are living their lives but clearly Florence survives by the grace or curse of tourism...
...Tonight we went back to Ottorino and Franco opened a bottle of Brunello Grappa as his gift to us. Kris and I were both touched and after dinner I asked the headwaiter who, spoke English to translate something for me. He called for Franco but the other waiters huddled around as well. I said that I had the good fortune to travel around the world and taste many wonderful foods in wonderful places but that I had never been treated as well as I had been by Franco. I said that I greatly appreciated his hospitality and kindness and that I would always remember him for providing two magical nights that Kris and I would never forget. As the headwaiter translated I could see Franco’s eyes tearing and when the translation was finished the other waiters applauded.
There was a light rain falling as we left the restaurant and walked toward the Uffizi. In the distance we heard a beautiful violin playing Mozart. There were people standing in the square under umbrellas listening to a young man in torn jeans playing as if in a trance. His name is Regius Ramski, and when I left he had thousands of lire in his violin case. It was one of the finest concerts I’ve ever attended.