In Florentia Veritas

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.

Italian Style Burger

Hamburger “di Ciccia”.

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.

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In ombra

Questo post ha avuto una gravidanza travagliata. Dopo che tutte le mie energie sono state assorbite da me stessa, un pensiero torna lì. A quel momento di un anno fa in cui salutavamo una donna dallo spirito coriaceo e anticonvenzionale. Accoglievamo la quiete che segue la tempesta e raccoglievamo le forze, ognuno a suo modo.

Fatico ad essere banale nei momenti sdolcinati (o sdolcinata nei momenti banali) e questo perché ho trovato una correlazione tra chi è sdolcinato e chi non riesce ad entrare in contatto davvero con le proprie emozioni. Le mie sono ben nascoste, quasi sempre negate a parole, eppure tradite in pieno dalla mia poco allenata Poker Face.

Ci si lavora ed è, come dire, un work in progress.

Wine

The Heirloom

L’ho già detto da qualche parte, io ringrazio sempre ed è un aspetto di me che entra nella revisione del work in progress di cui sopra. Con lei non l’ho mai fatto, ne cercavo inutilmente l’approvazione e litigavo come una vipera. Eppure facevo chilometri a piedi solo per sedermi sulle sedie di paglia colorata e ascoltare rapita i suoi racconti. Credo di aver sviluppato con lei la mia capacità di ascoltare e la silenziosa soddisfazione quando a parlare non c’era più nessuno.

In molti dettagli tutto è ancora vivido, nel verso delle tortore, nel profumo di bucato, nel vino che ho deciso di esplorare molto da vicino, negli strambi modi di dire stranieri o dialettali. Nel karkadé che mi scopro a comprare in una torrefazione, nell’Earl Grey con cui infarciamo i dolci. Nelle cartoline, che non ho più mandato a nessuno.

Quest’anno l’avrei di certo stupita, e con questo immodesto pensiero mi ci cullo. Per lei eravamo quelle particolari, quelle che dovevano sperimentare sempre. Quelle poco assennate. Vero, ed era questo essere così diverse tra noi che ci portava a rapportarci.

Un anno fa si chiudeva un momento intenso, che non ci ha permesso di assaporare a pieno ciò che stava accadendo. La malattia è stata un turbine di adrenalina a rilascio costante, notti insonni che rincorrevano giorni frenetici. Nella vita di ognuno di noi prima o poi capita: momenti, che a volte possono durare anni, in cui i ritmi non sono dettati da te e vivi in funzione di altri.

Quando ti lascia qualcuno con cui hai avuto un rapporto intenso e conflittuale non può che essere altrimenti. Ma la vita non si ferma, mai. Ci sono i primi giorni di fervore, seguiti da quelli di inquieto silenzio. Poi tutto si muove di nuovo e quando qualcuno bussa alla tua porta, ti devi ritornare ad aprire, per forza. Anche quando frigni, piagni e ti lagni. Anche là c’è qualcuno che ti vuole bene e che c’è oggi e domani potrebbe non esserci più. In quel caso puoi decidere che farne di quella persona. Quando meno te l’aspetti, arriva qualcosa che ti sconvolge in maniera pesante. E la giostra riparte.

Quest’anno la giostra si è fermata spesso, in alto come succede alle ruote panoramiche dei film, con quel senso di vertigine e impotenza del non poter far nulla se non aspettare che qualcosa si rimetta in moto da sè. A fianco a me non c’era nessuno con cui dovessi avere chiarimenti o sordide scappatelle. Questi momenti mi son serviti per fare pulizia mentale e rendermi ricettiva: in particolare se c’è qualcosa che ho “bevuto” quest’anno è la luce che si accende negli occhi di chi fa le cose con passione! La stessa luce ha illuminato me, spingendomi pian piano a muovere i primi, stentati, passi verso quella che so essere la mia direzione.
Iniziare ad accettare la banalità dei sentimenti che ci rende tutti uguali è uno di questi passi.
1 a 0 per me nonna.

Dinner with a Killer (Company)

Dinner with a Killer (Company)

Old Lady, Spicy, Round & Square Breakfast

I never had one gang of friends and have always regarded the mere concept as boring to say the least.

As it goes, I spent my early young age years segregating different circles of friends and acquantainces (yes, Google, you owe me) because it allowed me to show several aspects of my personality.

When I was ready to partyyyyy, I would call some in-the-know friends, if I was more in a movie-and-dinner kind of mood, I would text other friends. If I wanted to have serious talks about religion or politics, I’d know who to call, if I wanted a Sex and the City-like night, I would go out with my Martini girlfriends. That time is, apparently, over. Life is letting some people go on my behalf.

I recently celebrated this new trend in my social life with a very special unbirthday party. As an afterthought, Lewis Carroll would have been very proud indeed of the unlikely group that gathered last Saturday night.

In what was a magical, dreamlike situation, with people I know since I was 13 but never in the world thought I would ever be close friends with and people who shared a significant experience/journey with me, I enjoyed a pleasant dinner surrounded by special individuals with different stories and backgrounds.

Peculiarity alert: I adore old crime/mystery stories. One day I’ll surely get to write about my unconditional love for my fictional grandma, Angela Lansbury. Give me the nth rerun of any (and when I say any, I mean it) episode of “Murder, she wrote” and it makes my day. But that is another story that only explains why I am writing a post about a dinner among friends of friends.

If you share this oddity or, at the very least, if you’ve ever seen an Agatha Christie novel film adaptation, you’ll know the sensation those mystery stories evoke. I’m referring to polite conversation striking up between strangers. Talking for the sake of it, immersed in a dandy-like, retrò atmosphere. The ideal setting of most of my nights out. It’s because I love those settings, that give out a familiar feeling, that I appreciated the dinner so much. Yeah, the food, the excellent red wine and the quality of the topics played their part.

But it’s not just that. I think I know why I felt so happy when I took breaks to think, just observing other people interact (another thing my old lady self loves to do). We’re all in our mid-to-late twenties and despite all the paranoia this age brings, I felt a vibrant power. All I could see were brilliant people on the verge of breaking through in life. This is indeed the other side of the story, the age we are now is so beautiful because, as uncertain and fear-filled as it undoubtedly is, you can spend your modest income on three bottles of red wine without having to worry.  In other words, just enjoying the good conversation flowing.

And here’s to another windy and rainy Sunday. Bloody Sunday. That came and went. And to another start of the week.

How to make a breadcrumble

Pappa col pomodoro

The Bread: the bread is one the main components of our lives, pretty much everywhere on this planet. Except for the Western elites who keep demonizing carbs as Satan’s food, bread is “the staff in life”. There’s something so reassuring about it, maybe it’s not properly comfort food, but it’s one of the first things you’ll resort to when you need a carb-infused boost. Especially if you dip it into a freshly made tomato sauce. Bread stands for my Italian roots, almost screaming them out load, now clearer and more striking than ever. Like saying: back to basics.

Not so long ago one of my coworkers, who loves to drop in life-coach-worthy metaphors every once in a while, came up with this: “If you make the best bread in town and end up giving it to everybody, it’ll become even less than a standard.” A “given”, as marketers would have it. Something anybody has grown to expect from you and that is consequently not valued the way it should be. So here’s my starting point. Bread is a simple, commodity product, yet it’s a metaphor of whatever whole parts remain untouched in your soul and its value depends entirely on who you share it with. I’ve decided there’s no ciabatta or loaf here, just breadcrumbs to spread out to all the people who mean something in my life.

The Crumble: a bit more complicated to grasp. The Crumble stands for the well-known mix of flour and butter that goes so well with all kinds of fruit. There’s also a salty version, but, damn, I have a sweet tooth. It’s sure one easy way to turn basic ingredients into something rich and fancily fragmented.

Just like the crumble, this will be a virtual space for me to divide, collect and put together the pieces in the jigsaw that I’ve come to consider my life to be. I know, hard times we’re living. Recession is not playing easy on Generation X, or the following alphanumeric ones for that matter. Still, personal drama is somewhat more powerful, it affects us more than any doomsday-like scenario we hear on the news. It’s what makes us move and take life-altering decisions.

Here comes the last layer behind the name. In wannabe-nerd terms, breadcrumbs are tools to help the user who navigates the site find his/her way back from any given point on the map site. As dear Mother Wiki has it: “Breadcrumbs typically appear horizontally across the top of a web page, often below title bars or headers […] Breadcrumbs provide a trail for the user to follow back to the starting or entry point.” The term, originated from the breadcrums left by fairytale twins Hansel and Gretel, evokes the ability to find (or should I say fight) your way back through an uncertain path. Much like giving someone the power to see things in the wider scheme and putting it – quite literally – in their hands. I dig this concept, from an omniscient narrator to an omniscient user.

Getting to the point, a breadcrumble is a multi layered mess of beautiful single elements. Just like me, and this is where I will blend them all together and spit them out. To underline a fresh start. Period. Sometimes, and not only with web browsers, there’s just no turning “Back”. Whether it be because you just can’t remember how you got there in the first place, or because picking up old habits is the last thing you want.

Ch-ch-changes, said someone whose chameleon-like character won him a spot in the hall of fame. Change is what will always be there. As ironic as it may sound, change is the only certainty we have. Better be ready.

Finally, a style note for the sake of whoever will stumble upon these pages: there’ll be posts written alternatively in Italian or in English. They will not be following a regular pattern or talk about the same topics, these are two very different languages, apt for conveying different ideas and emotions.

Know what? Fine by me.