It’s the second time I literally feel the urge to start writing when out of town.
This is how it goes: the thoughts form faster than I can even acknowledge their presence and I feel a spark ignite inside me. Once again, I was tossing and turning around in my once-arranged-for-the-sleepover, now current-status-updated bed and the light struck me but I could not really grasp what it was. Sure enough, I was reading a harsh, thought-provoking book, but I could tell it wasn’t related.
Although I am growing stiff and unfamiliar with the language, the one thing I knew is that this post had to be written in English. The reason is easily explained. Florence was my first link to America and has played the part up till now. Whenever I go there, English words are all over the place and I cheerfully adapt to this trend.
I’ve come to think that if I lived in Florence, I would definitely keep my English fluent.
I had a undecided start with this town. The first time I visited Florence was the hottest, most humid day one could possibly imagine. Late July, 2008. I was interviewing for my student exchange visa to go to Boston. Tourists flooded the town as if it were their last day on Earth and all they felt like doing was come eye-level with David’s muscular body. I couldn’t help but feel relieved when the day was over.
Some years passed after this false start, I have made it a habit to visit two lovely people I met in Florence every two or three months. Florence is not just a city, nor is it one of the three spots people feel worth visiting in Italy: the Three-Cities-Area (Venice-Florence-Rome) which pretty much sums up Il Bel Paese for foreigners.
Florence is a State in itself. A Florentine has a natural birthright, which puts him or her beyond all the rest. Something you cannot describe until you actually see it in action, but clearly visible to anyone who would notice.
I’ve always thought that places have a way of speaking to you. If you allow them to permeate your whole body and soul you end up feeling almost mesmerized by the feeling a city conveys to you. You’re twice rich. There’s nothing that puts you more at your place than going places. You feel ridiculed in your once firmly ideas and you start questioning them, feeling like they’re somewhat diminished.
As it goes, after two years of intense relationship with F-town, we are at a turning point. Florence is speaking with a softer voice, as if we’ve mutually grown to expect the other’s presence, but without having adopted me.
It’s a more mature kind of love now. Whenever I go I crave the food, the colors, the air, the harmony and I know my way round. I’m not going to Florence to breathe through my green (or reddish, or cream or whichever Florentine-colored) lung anymore. I’m not going there to be amazed or to escape. I belong there, as an external observer.
Like every old couple, we enjoy the time we spend together, but we know we’re too different to merge. So what I do is worship her. Whenever I go I pay my respects to an old flame, because I think Florence is there to be admired and caressed. She expects you to do that, like you would in a courtship process in which she would never, no matter how hard you try, give in.