It was midnight when the airport bus dropped me off at Santa Maria Novella station where the taxis should have been. There was a sad little line of people waiting and the scene was that of a hushed city, like a De Chirico painting where the buildings around the empty piazzas seemed to be waiting for something to happen. Nothing much did, as the taxis arrived slowly, one by one at long intervals till I came to the front of the queue. A strange, bright London taxi was approaching. As it came closer, I saw that they were like scenes from children’s picture books. A “magician” leapt out of the driver’s seat and grabbed my bag. She was as colourful as her taxi with a lime green cloak, an extravagant, flower-covered hat and oversized lemon-yellow spectacles, but what shone out most of all was her wide smile and sparkling eyes.