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First, a quick rant: up ‘til yesterday, I have mostly hated Twitter.

I know I’m supposed to aim for tens of thousands of “followers.” But, short of buying them – as is so often advertised – I have a hard time trying to think of something scintillating to say in 140 characters that will be interesting, intriguing or inspirational enough to attract a crowd.  I talk about Tuscany, life and, of course, Lulu.   I do not talk about sex and I am not a celebrity, so right now I am content with my intimate following of about 200.

One member of my small group is a Pistoia-based Tuscan travel guide and concierge named Michela.  We exchanged a few direct tweets over the past few weeks and realized we had more than a few things in common. We both love Tuscany (of course), we each have one daughter, we enjoy exploring and traveling and most fun of all, perhaps, her favorite city is London and her favorite grandma was named Gina – just perfect someone named me!

So when we decided that it would be a great idea for me to take the train from Arezzo up to Pistoia to visit “Miky,” it seemed natural to us and a bit of a bewilderment to each of our husbands who asked, “Now, how do you know this person again?”

I packed a bag for Lulu and me and yesterday –  off we went.  First a train to Florence. Then change to another and  — whoosh – two hours later – we arrived in Pistoia. Miky was right there waiting for us at the platform.  Speaking almost only in Italian, she immediately became another zia, or auntie, to Lulu and a sorella, or sister to me.

She was gracious, lovely and kind.  First stop, the best pasticcheria in Pistoia for a new treat for me – ginseng cappuccino.

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Then she showed us all around her wonderful and beautiful home town.  The church where she was married and her daughter Francesca was later baptized…

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The fresh fruit and vegetable market that sets up every morning in one of the many piazze…

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And my favorite, the 15th century della Robbia statue of Mary and Elizabeth – one his largest.  When she was a schoolgirl, Miky used to pop into pray to the ladies to intercede on her behalf – to prevent her from being called in class when she hadn’t done her homework. Love that!

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Then, Miky drove us over to the famous walled-town of Lucca – with the largest walkable rampart in Europe.   This was Puccini’s home town, who brought us La Boheme and Madame Butterfly and so much more.   And while we didn’t have time to take in one of his operas, we did have lunch in one of his favorite cafes.  Lulu wasn’t nearly as impressed as I was.

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Finally, we ended our tour with a stroll through the town’s wonderfully round grande piazza.

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Encircled by cafes and boutiques, we lingered in Le Sorelle, an amazing store with locally hand-made prints, fabrics and other gifts. It’s run by four sisters, as its name implies.

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When we were visiting, one sister and the gorgeous mamma of them all were inside and fell in love with Lulu.  She charmed them by chatting non-stop in Italian, I found the perfect birthday gift for Scotty (which is next month, stay tuned), and Lulu came away with two homemade soaps – a parting gift from the ladies.

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“I’ve never had two free soaps before!” Lulu gushed, so excited.  (I don’t think she’s ever had even one.)

I was excited too.  We had had a splendid day with a terrific new friend.

Grazie mille Miky, and Grazie mille, dare I say it, Twitter!

Ciao tutti!

Gina

P.S.  Lots of people find friends and even spouses through virtual world, so it must be worth the trouble.  Who else has a good – or maybe cautionary – tale to share?

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