Friday, February 11, 2022

Italy: A Bag Full of Memories

It probably looks like a purple purse to you. 

Actually, in certain light, it appears Indigo blue. At night it looks black..

No matter the color, it is far more than a purse to me: it is a bag of Italian memories.

I am certain that many of you reading this have in your possession something purchased during your travels that at the time you handed over your payment, you questioned your sensibility in buying it. Then, after you got home, you realized it might be one of your most favored treasures all because of the memories that it holds. If so, you will understand the tale I am about to tell. . .

'Travel-Shopping' in Europe

Window shopping - a favorite past time of ours

Those of you who travel light with carry-on bags may not understand our philosophy about travel and shopping. In fact one of the big pluses about living in the European Union is our ability to shop in other countries without thinking about whether the USDA  (US Department of Agriculture) or Customs will allow this or that item to be brought back.  That means we not only check bags, we take large, partially-filled suitcases as we plan to fill them with food, wine, and other useable and consumable items that we can't find in Greece, the country where we make our expat home. We were like kids planning a trip to a candy store when we began planning our Italy trip. 

Prosecco and limoncello display - store window in Venice

It would be a food and wine shopping extravaganza. In addition, we'd decided we might look for Italian leather shoes. Because the straps of my fake-leather backpack purse were falling apart, I  said I might also look for an Italian leather purse as well.  

So many pastas from which to choose

I am still not quite sure when that 'might look for' became an outright quest, but it did - and sadly for The Scout, it hit early and it hit hard.  I was inexplicably driven to find a purse. But just not any purse, it had to be the 'just right' purse. (all of you using purses understand that statement). 

So many shops and temptations in Bologna

It had to be: reasonably priced (under 50 euros), large enough to carry my wallet, sunglasses as well as The Scout's. Thanks to Covid, it needed to have room for the packets of hand wipes, masks, and the documents we must carry to show proof of vaccination. . .both CDC card and passport are required. And I am a writer, so there needed to be room for pens and notebook. The more outside pockets, the better. Zipper closures, a must. In a perfect world it would work as both purse and backpack. . .and preferably be a nice muted tone, suitable for all seasons.  

The Quest Began

Our Italian souvenirs

We had no problem finding the food items we wanted nor the books, shoes, and wine as evidenced by the photo above of our treasures.  But the purse, that was another matter.  And it wasn't for lack of choices as there were stores selling 'real Italian leather' purses on every block, sometimes two or three stores side-by-side! In some stores the products looked like leather and some didn't. I began using our down time in the hotel to research leather - how to know it, buy it, not be scammed by fake products. . .and I was stunned at all there is to know about leather.  

And more purses. . .

I'll spare you the details, but in short: There is the feel and the smell and the look and the color, to consider. Then there were the grades of leather, ranging from man-made cheap to off-the-charts expensive.  

Finding The Purse

Purses and more purses

As we roamed the streets of Bologna, my search was casual and began to pick up steam by the time we got to Verona. At least once during every outing, I'd ask The Scout to wait 'just a minute', which to his credit, he did without complaining.  I'd emerge from the store announcing the bags were too big, too small, wrong color . . .or style. . . or price.  My quest intensified.

Italian leather purses. . .everywhere!

As our stay in Venice was nearing its end, I decided that my old bag would just have to serve me awhile longer. Then as we returned to our hotelon our almost last day, there was a purple. . . or was it blue. . . or black purse in a shop window caught my eye. 'This will be the last shop, I promise,'  I told The Scout.  The shop keeper retrieved the purse from window display, then pointed out its features: a backpack or shoulder bag, visible and secret outside pockets, It was cavernous. It came with guarantees and it smelled and felt like real leather. And it was on sale! Down from 150 euros to 49 euros -- it met all my requirements but one: it was purple and there were no other colors in that style.

Shopping in Venice along canals

So I asked myself, who really needs a sensible purse in a muted color these days?  And now with my purse on my shoulder and my favorite red leather gloves, I look like a member of The Red Hat Society. Back in the 1990's The Red Hats were everywhere it seemed. Groups of women across America celebrating their age (they had to be 50 years of age and older) - maybe flaunting their age --  by wearing outrageous red hats and purple attire to lunches and events.

Red Hat Society would approve

Much to The Scout's relief, I announce quite often these days, 'I love my purse!'. . .but I think I love even more, the memories it holds of our trip to Italy and the adventures we had in finding it!

That's it for this week. Hope to see you back again soon. Welcome to our new subscribers and followers and as always thanks for your time and wishes for safe travels. Hope you'll take a minute to tell us about those treasures you've found on your travels in either the comments below or shoot us an email!

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  1. Oh, how I know that feeling! Half the fun of going away for me is coming home with treasures. I had a similar experience in Israel where I wanted a menorah, and was convinced I'd be going home empty-handed. But, on the last day, there it was. It is one of my most treasured souvenirs. So glad you found a purple/blue/black purse to suit your needs!

  2. I LOVE your purple/blue/black purse. Purple is my favorite color, and I have a purple purse. Great story.


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