Friday, August 23, 2013

Hair cut in Firenze

 It has been coming for a while, one failed attempt in Boglietto, and a couple of months of concerted growing find me in a position of intermittent grooming distress. Really only the most benign state of distress mind you, however on occasion over the last fortnight I have thought to myself, "I could do with a hair cut".

With five days planned in fair Florence and with no actual plan to fill the days, my goal of arresting the exuberance on my head seemed highly manageable. Upon mentioning my primary goals for the day to my ragazzo Erjon up in reception this morning, "look at some statues, get a hair cut", he promptly proposed a solution.

"I don't know the name of the place but it is around the corner and it is where I get my hair cut". Based more on his choice of fashion forward shoes than his perfectly acceptable hair cut I decided to take Erjon's advice. Plus it was just around the corner.

With a passing remark about the hairdresser's frequent state of being "in demand" rolling in my mind I set off to make an appointment, or with fortune's favour boldly surge forth into the chair. I struck out through the market and scanned for the crucial corner to in action, go around, via Faenza.

A smooth run through the streets, with the relaxed air of a man on a mission that need not necessarily be done, and I soon found myself across the narrow traditional feeling lane that is via Faenza from a hairdresser. The store was indeed difficult to remember the name of as I'm not sure it had one. The thematic fashion decoration on the window and the ranks of chairs beyond gave away its purpose, my shaggy head gave away mine.

The salon hound greeted locals and tourists alike as they milled around the street or attempted entrance respectively.

I crested the entrata and was brought face to face with a signore who I'll elect to describe as looking like an Italiano hair dresser. Proud and effortlessly lofting hair, a brisk white button up shirt with sleeves rolled up in workmanlike fashion, delightfully stripped pants and a glorious pair of green shoes. Now to call these things shoes is an unfortunately accurate under description. They were more of an achievement in mans' never ending conquest over the realms and principality of comfort, design and aesthetic originality. The man looked the business, and for the second time that morning I was making a not completely inconsequential evaluation based on footwear. Close, but not completely.

This is either a sign of my slow absorption of Italiano customs and ideas, an inspired, inventive and effective new method for determining my life direction or a fundamentally flawed and potentially useless decision making matrix. Perhaps a combination, suffice to say that if I knew the Italian word for shoes I would have said, "nice shoes".

Gratefully as I approached he reined in the galloping morning music and we pretty effectively bridged our language gulf to organise a cutting of hair right then and there. Success! I believe now that I was the unwitting benefactor of Italian time management. I think I walked in at the very beginning of the day's trade and slipped right into a window between the day's first cafe and the day's second cafe slash first appointment.

The salon assistant had not arrived and between the hound, hairdresser and potentially my mentioning of a recommendation from a friend at the Hotel Corti de Medici we resolved to get started immediately.

This man who I will now refer to as Michelangelo set to work with a level of precision that I found most impressive. With the only real guidance given by me the word "shorter", he began the process. Scissors, texturising scissors, clippers on the long blade, clippers on the short blade, smaller clippers and finally a strait edged razor. This initial attention was almost exclusively applied to the hair line.

When I checked later the English word 'precision' does in fact translate to 'precisione' in Italian, which I'm thankful for because I said it and I meant it, precisione. I say Michelangelo because; one, I don't know many authentic Italian names. two, I appreciate a hopefully only slightly offensive national stereotype. three, the city I'm currently enjoying, renascence cradle, etc, etc. and four, my hairdresser's impressive attention to detail on the job, masterful. I mean it affectionately and I was a fan immediately.

As I was sitting in the chair enjoying this experience a few observations began to form into a thought, the time that Mich was taking, the comment about "high demand" from Erjon and the quality of the man's shoes suddenly made we wish I had checked the price beforehand. "This could get rough" I thought. Fortunately I'm skilled at releasing uncontrollable factors in life from my care and I quickly settled in to the experience, both in the chair now, and at the register later.

Some more scissors, a second wash, the hair drier, a second cafe and some hair wax later and the job was done. A simple wash, cut, wash, brush, shave, style, eyebrow trim all knocked over while the day's first booked customer and signorina Kate the salon assistant casually arrived.

Michelangelo did his work well and as I discovered from signorina Kate, who spoke fluent English with her native Ohioan accent, that he had been doing so for 15 years. "He is from Napoli and they start their apprenticeship young down there, when they are 13".

We agreed that you could tell, he is good and really precise. We also agreed that Ohio was a great place to grow up and then great to move away from, to Montana, Florida or say, even to Florence.

A Firenze hair cut, not so grand an event, but maybe a little moment worth rambling away about.


  1. I got sprung reading this at work...probably because of the inadvertent (yet unavoidable) 'lols'. This European saga is captivating and reading it is certainly reawakening the travel bug :) keep the stories comig Mike


  2. I think I see an edge of Italian style there Mike