For the past week, we have been getting journal entries from Russ Pope during his trip to northern Italy, specifically for his new solo show, “Summer People,” which opened at Antonio Colombo Gallery in Milan on September 27th. As we followed along with Russ in Japan this past summer as he had 3 shows in 9 days, we wanted to get messages as Russ draws his way through Milan. On his final entry, Russ makes his way to the capital of the Renaissance, Florence! —Juxtapoz


We stumbled upon a restaurant in a tiny alley for lunch, enjoyed club sandwiches at All’Officin Caffé, and then we walked to the Museo Nazionale Scienza E Technologia Leonardo da Vinci. This expansive museum is filled with models of Da Vinci's inventions and modern creations related to his research and engineering.


Later that evening, we visited Claudio at Bastard Store. Not only is Bastard Store an epic skate shop, it's also an architectural masterpiece. Housed in a movie theater built in the 1940s, Bastard Store has maintained the integrity of the theater feel and added a beautiful elevated birch and steel framed bowl, modern retail shop and event space, winning the ArchDaily Building of the Year 2009.




Max, Claudio and Russ had a fun skate session and we followed it up with a late night dinner of risotto and wine at Trattoria de Abele Temperanza. The local vibe and friendly owner made the dinner even more fabulous. There’s a tiny model of the restaurant with stunning detail behind the bar. If you are in Milan, be sure to make a stop here for the best risotto and placemat art adorning the walls.


Claudio drove us back to our apartment in a little smart car he picked up on the side of the road with an app. These are all over the city, like the bike programs in the U.S. Friday in Milan was fabulous.

Saturday we had train tickets to Florence for the day. The fast train takes only 1.5 hours through beautiful countryside. Bustling with tourists, Florence takes a minute to adjust to, but the buildings and architecture are worth it. After a quick tour around the Museo Duomo, we waited in a long line to climb Giotto's Campanile. Giotto's Campanile tall, thin, red, white and green marble bell tower on the Piazza del Duomo with very narrow passageways filled with 414 stairs. There are three floors with incredible views of Florence and the surrounding mountains. The views were worth the hike up the stairs in the dark narrow passages.



From there we braved the crowds for the Uffizi Gallery. Opened in 1581, this gallery houses some of the most prominent and historic works in Italy. The first gallery had a Fritz Koenig exhibition of drawings and sculptures that culminated with the story of his world trade center sculpture and its revitalization after the devastation of 9/11. The exhibit was expansive, impressive and interesting.





Next, we marveled at the ceilings of the Uffizi, the history and the art.





After the stairs of the Campanile and the large galleries on every floor of the Uffizi, we walked to the Ponte Vecchio bridge for some pizza. Ponte Vecchio offers beautiful river views of surrounding Tuscany and loads of tourists and touristy shops. Luckily we wandered far enough away to find a little pizzeria tucked into an alley. We loaded up on enough beer and pizza to make it back to the train station for our trip back to Milan.


Saying, “Arrivederci” to Italy felt sad and too soon. Sunday morning was a little somber thinking about all the art, history, food and drink we would not be taking home with us. Nonetheless, we will keep some of the relaxed way of life and the laughter with us back in the U.S… and, hopefully, we will find some crusty bread, stinky cheese and Italian wine, too.