One month ago today I left home. Sadly, one month ago today I did not arrive in Florence, but that’s all in another post.
These past 31 days have been an experience all their own. I’ve already written about some of my experiences in other cities, but not about them in Florence. I’m going to use this post to kind of, sum up, in a way the memories I’ve yet to share but want to before they are swept away by all the new memories to come.
The day we landed, my roommate and I wandered to the city center. The beating heart of Florence is the Duomo. Every time I see her, Santa Maria del Fiore, I am captivated (I call her ‘My Queen’ as she truly rules the city). Witnessing my roommates reaction to the impossible dome was wonderful. She was shaken and thrilled and instantly in love. It was a split second reaction, but one that was raw emotion at its core.
The markets in Florence are whimsical. We stumbled upon them by accident while searching for an old Kellow family favorite, A Casa Mia pizza. Local farmers unloading their goods out of the back of their flatbed trucks (the biggest vehicles I’ve seen in Europe besides the public transit). Prices are excellent, and the quality of the vegetables is so fresh there are practically still roots attached. I also managed to purchase two scarves for one euro a piece, a great deal for a happy accident.
While in Salzburg, the best memory I have from my day on the Sound of Music tour wasn’t even a destination. It was the bus ride through the lakes area of Austria, full of people from every corner of the globe (the business man next to me from Mumbai, young ladies behind me from Sydney, elderly couple in front from Taiwan, and the list goes on and on). The memory is of when the speakers and our tour guide began the melody to the ever famous Do Re Mi song. Every soul on the bus was singing the words that they knew by heart, because why else would they be on this tour? It was a lovely moment to see music unite us all, in a way that not much else can.
Florence is a city of art, music, and history. The best moments are a combination of all three. While here I found a street artist that I met in 2013 whose paintings I could recognize anywhere, simply because I have them in my room at home at this moment (he also was the one to give us the recommendation to go to A Casa Mia pizza in the first place). He did not remember me, but I didn’t expect he would. It was one interaction with a traveler to him then, but a key memory to me. I sat and spoke with him for a long while before he asked if he could draw me. The night was cold, but I was in no rush. So I sat and he drew, and we talked some more. I purchased a few small paintings (at a kind discount) and he let me keep the drawing he had done. I still get a smile and a wave from him each time I pass by.
Another memory from 2013 that resurfaced was buying my leather jacket. I stumbled upon the same leather store where I made that milestone purchase to make another. After long hours of searching, I found a ‘weekender’ bag that perfectly suited my needs. I learned while carting my carry on wheeled suitcase to Salzburg and Venice, that I really needed something handheld. I still have no idea what the store is called, even after making two purchases there, but I know it’s in the square of Santa Croce and if you ask Morrie or Giorgio they will help you with anything you could possibly need.
A stressful memory was misplacing my water bottle in Venice. Water is not free in restaurants in Europe the way it is in the states, but there are many public water fountains. Knowing this, I treated myself to a fancy water bottle (post Christmas, thank you family for the gift cards!). After a relaxing gondola ride, I abandoned my bottle in a cafe carelessly. Once I arrived back at the hotel (mind you, the hotel was a twenty minute walk from where the gondola dropped us) I realized my mistake and bolted across the city of bridges. Finding the cafe again as the sun was setting, I almost wept with relief when the owner saw me and laughed while shaking his head, handing me the bottle from behind the counter without a word.
One night a friend asked me if I wanted to go to a jazz club. After a lot of confusion and frustration and walking across the river to find the venue, it came out that there was no live music at the club that night. After that, myself and the other four girls strolled the streets until music caught our ears. A different venue just so happened to be playing live jazz music. If you have seen La La Land (if you haven’t, you should) or have a passion for it then you understand how beautiful jazz music can be. Also, I saw La La Land while here in Italy (in English surprisingly!) at a beautiful old theater with its original seats from 1920. And yes, they sold popcorn. And yes, it’s exactly the same as in the states.
The most recent memory was from earlier today. I was wandering about the city center, truly aimless, just looking for inspiration honestly. I was stopped instantly and completely by a song that came from no where. A cello player was sitting on a bench facing the Duomo and had just begun to play. He witnessed my reaction and laughed at me, all while still playing the song that had struck me. I went and sat beside him for another five songs, and he shook his head and smiled the whole while. People passed, and eventually I moved along. Like I said before, Florence is a city of art and music and history, and its magic truly entrances your very being.
There are some memories I have that are just flashes of things I’ve witnessed and made me smile. The elderly ladies, walking with linked arms down the street, dressed in thick fur coats and laughing like long time friends. The locals dogs (usually mutts, which I adore) that all wear coats, because to the Italians 45 degrees F is still the dead of winter, and they simply must keep their pups warm. The child who ran from his mother to jump into a puddle, tripping and laughing in the rain. The sound of several churches bells, all ringing at once to try and capture your attention over one another. The local cafe two blocks from my apartment, with the owner who speaks no English but knows my roommate and I, and starts our order as we walk through the door.
So much more has happened, but these are the little things I want to hold on to, and in doing so also share them with you. Sharing these moments is a way for me to show you my world while I am here, and also a way for me to look back on them once I’m home.
So cheers to month one, and let’s see what the rest will bring, shall we?