Although the overlap between London Collections: Men and Pitti Uomo has been jostled, travel time between the two is still a tricky business. If you stay in London for all LCM activities, i.e. end of day Monday, you must either fly to Florence Monday night or at the crack of dawn Tuesday. Ever the morning person (ahem) I chose Tuesday, and since the prices of flights to Florence proper are understandably jacked during Pitti, elected to fly to Milano and take the train from there. “It will be beautiful,” one Anglo-Italian told me. “A train through the fields of Tuscany: belissima!” I checked the train schedules on the website, and it all looked so easy. Unfortunately EasyJet (I’m fancy like that) doesn’t fly into Milan: not exactly. It flies into ‘Milan (Malpensa)’ which is about an hour’s drive outside the city. Also, train strikes are apparently not uncommon in Italy, and just my luck, there were strikes that very morning with intermittent service only on lines departing from Stazione Centrale. I took a taxi to that stazione, which cost approx. $100, and when I arrived, given all the canceled trains, including mine, the only option was a $90 business class ticket on the third next Florence-bound train from the station.
I sat in a cafe, had some pasta, checked my email, Instagram and a few hours later, boarded the train. On board, I dozed a bit, and gazed out of the window, and yes, it was beautiful, until some loud ill-mannered man sat next to me, shouting Business into his hands-free, and carrying a bag that suffused the carriage with such a stench. After giving him side-eye for 10 minutes or so, he reached into the bag, still shouting at the unfortunate person on the other end of the line, and pulled out a Big Mac. I was so astonished, and so affronted. I clung to the hope that McDonalds in Italy must be better than the slop they serve here in America, but the smell of that burger insisted otherwise, and haunts me still.
We arrived approx. two hours later at the handsome Santa Maria Novella station, and the Hotel Cellai was a few minutes walk away. I love that hotel, and the stresses of the journey drifted away, but I had totally missed the always impressive Pitti Opening Ceremony, and had less than an hour before the first day of the show closed. The moral of this story is, if you can, always book a ticket directly into Florence. Don’t cut corners. A few extra hundred dollars upfront could save you just as many behind, and all manner of other frustrations.
I ran to the show, and arrived to witness what must be one of few menswear Natural Wonders of the World, something akin to the great migration of wildebeest in the Serengeti: impeccably dressed men flooding from the gates of the Fortezza in wondrous numbers; an exodus of colorful summer suits, chased by street style photographers, and I like a salmon swimming upstream. Against the tide I got into the fair, and did a quick circuit. Then quickly on to CP Company’s 40th Anniversary party nearby. With the clock against me, I took a few snaps, and continued on to Il Signor Nino, a special Pitti Uomo exhibition of Nino Cerruti’s work amidst the sculpture at il Museo Marino Marini. It was breathtaking. Alas, my camera decided that, of all the moments over the passed 5 days, was the time to wave the white flag, so as you might notice, it’s all Instagram images that evening on. From Cerutti to Cucinelli for their seasonal dinner, set in the gardens of the Medici Villa della Petraia. I can’t imagine a dinner more spectacular. Six (or was it seven?) courses, served with champagne and fine wine in the Florentine hills. It was a dream, and four hours later we jumped on a bus that took us each to our respective hotels to sleep and dream of Barbera and burrata.