Friday, November 22, 2013

Ciao a Tutti

I would need to blog twice a day, every day, to capture the essence of my time here in Florence. The way I feel about this city has changed in a myriad of ways, as expected, since the moment I first saw the Duomo from the airplane until now. It’s easy now, so close to the end, to romanticize my time here, since it does indeed involve a lot of romance—the culture focuses on it, the men profess it, the language is even named after Romance. But, I feel like I must shed a little reality on the experience, and talk for a brief moment about the struggles and discomforts of life here.

I think I speak for everyone when I state the following: the mosquitoes are enough to drive a sane woman to violence; there is no safe way to walk around with a to-go cup of coffee without knowing how blatantly American you look; street vendors seemingly pop out of the ground whenever it rains, prompting you with “Ombrella? Ombrella? Sorella, signoria, ombrella?”; tourists crowd each square and seem to have no sense of periphery vision, no matter how obvious it is that you are late to class; every time you speak some form of broken, Americanized Italian, you will immediately receive an exasperated sigh and response in perfect English.

And yet…

The mosquitoes still persist because of the beautifully warm weather. To-go cups are not typical, because Italians would rather experience everything they do in a slow and enjoyable manner. Why gulp down your cappuccino as you walk to class, when instead, you can take five extra minutes and sip it while standing at the bar? The vendors, however annoying they might be, at least will never be as terrible as those in other cities—those that will actually go so far as to grab you by the arm when you won’t pay five Euro for a cheap plastic poncho. The tourists are only there for the same reasons I am, when I think about it, so how can I be angry? They have the right to see what I see every day, they have the right to experience the wonder I have felt for months, and I can’t really blame them for staring, slack-jawed, at the Loggia in Piazza della Signoria as I rush past on my way to Photography. Lastly, Italians are used to Americans simply assuming that everyone speaks English, so it’s no wonder that most of the time we students receive that exasperated English response. But, doesn’t this make each conversation held in only Italian, however difficult it might have been, more valuable?

No matter what small struggles I may experience here, the fact remains that Florence is, to date, my favorite place I’ve ever been. As my fellow students have already said over and over, being surrounded by history and art and beauty is not something one can get used to. The fact that I consistently use the Duomo as a meeting point for friends or Santa Croce as a landmark to get to someone’s apartment is just absurd. I am as sure as I can be that I will return to Florence, and I am even more sure that I will never, ever forget my time here. 

Grazie, Firenze.

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