When in Rome, do as Audrey does

Audrey and I were strolling by the Basilica San Lorenzo the other day when she abruptly stopped, turned and insisted I pause to have a look.

"Aren't these shoes marvellous?" she said, gazing in the men's store window. "Wouldn't it be fun if you tried them on tomorrow?"

"Fun might be stretching the boundaries of the word," I replied.

Ah, Italia. Home of Michelangelo, da Vinci, Brunelleschi.

And Gucci, Versace and Armani.

Yes, in modern Italy, sleek handbags, finely tailored suits and eye-catching shoes compete with Renaissance masterworks for the curious traveller's attention.

And for every 15th-century mural or finely chiselled marble sculpture there is at least one shop window displaying lacy lingerie, silk ties or leather coats. No wonder James Bond feels at home in Italy, gamely speeding under Venetian bridges without even wrinkling his Cardinale slacks.

Though not aggressively unfashionable, the IO spent more time under the Tuscan sun admiring frescoes than footwear. The ever-stylish Audrey, however, is a veritable Siren of foreign fashionistas. And so on occasion I found myself in her company, not comparing the brushwork of Botticelli and Michelangelo but gauging the fit of handsome wool coats.

The wares are undeniably fine. But a touch pricey in the posh boutiques. After all, does one really need to plunk down enough euros for an Armani tie to buy 20 County ales at one of the more inviting Elgin Street pubs?

Walking back to the hotel, we passed a clutch of market-stall street vendors selling less expensive yet still desirable bags, belts and scarves. In fact I picked up three fetching Italian silk ties bearing a respectable fashion-house label for a grand total of a mere 20 euros.

Take that, Mr. Versace.

1 comment:

Harmony said...

Women love a sharp-dressed man, IO.