It has been a little over a week since I left Italy and I have been silent over here on the blog because I needed a bit of a readjustment period. There is still so much I haven’t talked about in regards to the trip and I’m going to attempt to address it all in one post, so I apologize if it is overly long (there are lots of pretty pictures though!).
Despite never feeling homesick while I was abroad, I did miss some very specific things and people, like long hot showers (our shower only stayed hot for 5 minutes and smelled gross afterwards), using a dryer for my clothes (air drying takes forever and the clothes are never quite as soft), an oven (this one made me particularly sad because I love to cook so much), my king size bed (once you’ve had a big bed it’s hard to go back to a twin), personal space (so many crowds!), and fresh air (I hate the constant rain here in WA, but it definitely makes the air amazingly pure). I never missed the news, the rain, or having to go to work every day (I like my job but there is no way it’s better than getting to do whatever I want, whenever I want in a place like Florence).
Now that I’m back home, however, there are many, many things I will miss about being in Italy: the gardens; the art; the church bells; the smell of the perfumeries; the secret bakery; the attitude of do what you will, if it doesn’t hurt me or my family I don’t care; the beautiful cityscape; there is so much within walking distance you don’t need a car; the train travel; Follonica; the nearness of other countries; the bars/cafes; the sun; 2 hour long lunch breaks; the beautiful sunsets; the grandiosity of the buildings; being mistaken as an Italian by an Italian; watching fashionable men in suits riding Vespas with their briefcases by their legs; dogs everywhere; fashion, because both the women and the men know how to dress to get la bella figura; being able to dress nicely everyday (I wear sweats to work); scarves; the concept that at a restaurant you’re renting space rather than being rushed through your meal to get your table turned over; the fresh ingredients; the old age of the buildings; handsome Italian men…
I won’t miss randomly gross smells (my friends and I joked that you could be walking along a single block and one second admire the smell of lilacs and perfume and the next be gagging over the smell of sewer and urine), the crazy traffic, getting lost (narrow streets and tall buildings make it difficult to navigate at times — I cannot tell you how many hours I was lost during the 11 weeks I was there), the crowds/tourists (it can be a little frustrating at times to be surrounded by all those people), having to use my sunglasses for protection so that no one would know I was lost by my frantic eyes darting around, and the Italian men (the most aggressively/persistently/consistently I have ever been hit on was in Italy and at times it could be very uncomfortable) .
I will also say that I had a love-hate relationship with the art by the end of our time there — I loved being surrounded by it and feeling as though everything was beautiful, but at times it became overwhelming and almost blasé, which I resented because I could recognize the beauty in what I was seeing but I no longer felt it. It made me wonder if the native Florentines could appreciate what they had.
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I kept track of a few things while I was there that I thought might be interesting to share.
Cities I Visited: (14) Firenze, Siena, San Gimignano, Montepulciano, Pienza, Follonica (2), Portoferraio (Elba), Arcetri*, Fiesole*, Venice, Verona, Pisa, Lucca, Settingnano*.
Museums I Went To: (14) Palazzo Pitti (2), Uffizi (3), Accademia, Salvatore Ferragamo Museo, Gucci Museo, Napoleon’s Villa, Fortezze Medicee, Fiesole Archeological Museo, Juliet’s Tomb, Dante Museo, Bargello, Stefano Bardini Museo, Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Strozzi.
Gardens I Strolled In: (7) Giardino Boboli (4), Giardino Bardini (2), Villa Gamberaia, Giardini Giusti, Giardino dell Iris (2), Giardino dell Rose (5), Giardino Giapponese (2).
Churches I Went To: (16) Siena Duomo, Church of St. Catherine in Siena, Santa Maria Novella, Montepulciano Duomo, Madonna di San Biagio in Montepulciano, Pienza Duomo, Chiesa di San Remigio, Santa Croce, San Miniato al Monte, San Salvatore al Monte alle Croce, Chiesa di Santa Margherita dei Cerchi, Fiesole Duomo, San Lorenzo, Firenze Duomo, Brancacci Chapel, Santo Stefano al Ponte.
Holidays/Events I Was There For: Buona Pasqua, Festa della Liberazione, Festa de Lavoro, Notte Bianca, Gelato Festival, Remembrance of Mafia Violence/Mafia Protests.
Activities I Participated In: 2 walking tours of Firenze, a performance of La Triviata, white wine tasting, Chianti tasting at Cantine del Redi, olive oil tasting, hiking, Fiorentina vs. Inter Milan football match, pizza making, Pino’s wine tasting, secret passages tour of Palazzo Vecchio, a medieval fair, cooking class.
Concerts I Went To For My Music Course: Gregorian Chants, Alison Balsom, 2 organ concerts, music by John Cage, and a concert of music from Fellini films (my favorite).
Movies I Watched For My Film Course: Roma, Open City; Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge; Un Chien Andalou; La Terra Trema; The Bicycle Thief; Pinocchio; 8 1/2; La Strada; La Dolce Vita; Ciao Professore.
And in the even more random: my most oft visited spot was Piazzale Michelangelo (6x), my favorite panini shop was Pino’s (6x), I read a total of (7) books while I was there, I had (15) whole pizzas, (19) Kinder bars, and (19) pastries, (6) of which were from the secret bakery, and those numbers pale in comparison to the (28) gelato of various sizes and flavors that I ate (my favorite were fondente and cocco), and despite almost never drinking coffee in the states I managed (22) cappuccinos in Italy.
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Now that I’m back to normal life (working & writing only since school is out) I’m amazed at how easy it has been to fall back into a normal routine. I was very sad to come home and yet it has been a bit of a relief to be in a comfortable and familiar place surrounded by those I love. I would not trade my time in Italy for anything and I cannot wait to go back (or maybe to France this time?) but for the time being I am content to let things get back to the usual, and now I am refreshed and ready to go as opposed to tired, burnt out, and uninspired, which is where I was when I left for Italy.
“A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark.” –Dante