Eventually, still looking for the B&B, we arrived at the Piazza della Signoria, featuring an outdoor sculpture gallery, and where I had one of those not-so-reassuring experiences one gets when traveling ... and then wonder about.
Our lodgings were reportedly just down the street from Dante Alighieri's, on a street now named after him. That street, however, was eluding us, and trudging our luggage around in search of it was proving a less-than-divine comedy.
I offered to sit with our gear in the piazza while Case searched further. I arranged the backpacks next to me and put Case's laptop bag next to my feet. Minutes later, a man walked past me fumbling in his pocket. As he pulled his cell phone from his pocket, his keys fell to the ground next to my feet, apparently unnoticed. I leaned over and picked them up as he stopped 15 feet away to talk on a cell phone. Shouting to him and jingling his keys I tried to gain his attention from where I sat, I felt pulled between my desire to return his keys to him and the need to stay with our belongings. He remained unhearing, apparently engrossed in his phone conversation. Should I leave my bags and take his keys to him...it will only be 10 seconds, only 15 feet?
Then it crossed my mind -- this might be one of those distraction scams.
I turned my attention to my surroundings, looking for anyone who might be working with him. Yes... maybe those two -- a suspicious looking couple 10 feet away from me in the opposite direction, the man with his back to me and the woman glancing over his shoulder. I fixed my eyes on them and continued to jingle the keys, determined to stay with my bags. Shortly, I heard the footsteps of cell-phone-man approaching, I continued to stare down the couple, he took the keys from my hand, thanked me, and attempted to start a conversation. Ignoring him I kept a firm hand on my bags, and my eyes fixed staring on the couple. Eventually, cell-phone-man left me alone, walking off into the crowded square -- and as I continued watching the couple walked off, too, trailing 50 feet behind him. Relieved to still have our computer and backpacks, I sat waiting for Case and wondering: Had I just imagined the whole scenario? Or were they really thieves?