We checked in at our hotel on Via Guelfa in Florence and they told us that the best shopping was just a two minute walk behind the hotel. So we unloaded our luggage and went in search of bargains. I had heard that the best leather products in Italy (probably in all of Europe) were in Florence. We walk down the street and the vendors’ shops were filled with beautiful leather belts, purses, bags, and jackets. I had been wanting an Italian leather jacket for years, so now here was my chance.

Just as I was looking at some products in one stall, we heard one guy shout behind us in perfect English: “Hey you guys! I know you’re Americans! Don’t pretend you can’t hear me. We have the best leather jackets in town! Come on guys, give me a chance!” Man, with that kind of sales pitch, how could I resist? We laughed and said, “OK, anyone with that kind of line deserves our attention.”

And we walked over to his shop. “Dave” was our very humorous (and slick) salesman. He knew exactly what I wanted and got it for me. While I was trying on the jacket (and having my wife and daughter tell me how good I looked in it) I asked “Dave” what his real name was. It was Hassan. He had fled Beirut in 1985 when he was only 14 and had made a life for himself in Italy. Along the way he learned flawless English (and several other languages). I believe he probably could have sold snow to an Eskimo. I bet he could charm a turtle out of its shell. Any man who could overcome the odds and build a new life for himself in another country deserves to be rewarded.

Well, the women in my life loved the jacket so that sealed the deal. Dave/Hassan and I shook hands and agreed on the price. I went home that day wearing my new leather jacket made in Italy, and I had also made a new friend.

The next time you are in Florence Italy I hope you bump into my friend Dave/Hassan…he’s the best leather jacket salesman in the country!