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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Happy-Go-Lucky

Happiness is real only when it is shared.

Ta-da-da. I am going to start off once again with a quote, taking a leaf out of the person I once was’ book.

Raisin and Pine Nuts Potato Sweet Cake

Pacman: Raisin and Pine Nuts Potato Sweet Cake

The quote comes from Into the Wild, a movie I saw once and never even attempted to rewatch again. A peculiarity that is indeed very unsual for me since I’m used to watch movies and read books over and over again. It’s not that I didn’t like it, on the contraty I digged it. I loved it so much and at the same time I was – how can I put it? – affected.

Into the Wild is a tale of the rejection for a normal life, recounted through a personal journey to find a truer meaning to his life. Possibly due to just how much I could relate to Emile Hirsch character, Christopher McCandless, soon to become Alexander Supertramp. Back at the time when the movie hit theaters, I was getting ready for one of my most intense experiences. Sure, I was not going to burn 25 grands and cut off all relations, but trying to live alone on the other side of the world felt like an adventure to me.

Attributed to Supertramp, the quote is the climax of the movie and self-discovery journey itself. Right before passing away, when he realizes there is quite literally no turning back and he feels more desperate than he would ever have imagined, he has an epiphany. He thought he would find a deeper meaning to it all, by refusing to take part in a society he judged corrupted and hypocritical, only to discover that real happiness comes from functional, heart-warming connections. Exactly what he had shunned.

I envisioned what would happen after my return. I could almost anticipate that I would come back after a similar discovery, except for the fact that I would be a) hopefully not dead due to a toxic wild potato poisoning b) going back to an ordinary life with obvious needs for readjustement.

What happened instead is that I went back home with a heart filled with memories I could never have imagined and a fridge magnet reading out:

True happiness lies within you.

The magnet is now hidden on the bottom of a metallic shelf, whereas the first quote still pops up triumphantly in any profile of my online being.

As it turns out, real life is all about compromising. Duh. I know, it’s not so much as a breakthrough piece of information. Still, I am pretty sure I am not the only one who finds it hard to balance relationships. So you have to work your way into adapting yourself.

I have been struggling all these years to find a resolution between the two opposite takes. Truth be told, I still have no clue. My deepest nature, my core, is much more inclined towards the first quote yet there are times when I really cannot include other people whom I love in my own picture of “looking for happiness”. Very often I am tempted to go Alexander Supertramp again and restart it all over. The real challenge behind all this is that you have to let them know you care about them, hoping they’ll understand your burn out, or just your needs.

One day I’ll find the winning streak and balance or I’ll die trying. Hopefully not after a wild potato intoxication. In the meantime I’ll use potatoes to find balance in a sweet recipe. Enjoy!

E se trovo le radici?

Anzitutto devo assolutamente andare dal parrucchiere. Che devo rifarmi la tinta.

E se trovi le radici in un dato luogo fisico e non solo sui capelli? Tipo la tua città? Lo senti, dentro. Allora so’ cazzi. Particolarmente visto e considerato il momento storico.

Domenica mattina: mi giro e mi rigiro tra le sontuose lenzuola di questo bell’albergo di Milano, città che oggi appartiene solo ai turisti, ai consueti invisibili e ai milaneeeesi che han dovuto rinunciare al ponte di Sant’Ambrogio.

Milano è città d’elezione per molta, moltissima gente. Questo suo essere mamma adottiva un po’ restia, ostile ed accogliente al tempo stesso, il suo essere non luogo mi affascina e mi rende familiare un posto che altrimenti faticherei a digerire. Quest’anno la capitale della moda italiana ha giocato un ruolo chiave nella mia vita, fonte di piccole soddisfazioni, svolte professionali e non solo.

Chi ha studiato comunicazione prima o poi a Milano ci dovrebbe passare per emergere, per “farcela”. Banalmente, è il primo posto in Italia dove non c’è il paron che vuol far da sè perchè tanto scrivere xe bravi tutti, come pensano in tanti. La Madonnina invece io l’ho sempre rifuggita. Anzitutto, è troppo dorata e a me il luccichio eccessivo non garba. Quand’era il momento non mi ci sono buttata a capofitto ed evidentemente non è scritto al momento che io passi per di là. Ci respingiamo, a volte accarezzandoci sfuggevolmente, ma consapevoli che il nostro destino non è quello di stare insieme.

Sì, sto ancora parlando di una città.

L’ho girata spesso in solitario, Milano. Stavolta accompagnavo un’amica, che sta intraprendendo un percorso di cui sono orgogliosa e che si riflette in ciò che emana la sua personcina vulcanica. Sarà che ora come ora fatico a trovare la mia di lava da eruttare, ma, come prevedibile, il brulicare di gente sconosciuta, il freddo pungente, il sole d’inverno mi hanno galvanizzato.

Milano da Bere

Milano da Bere. Adagio.

Sono stata girovaga e inquieta a lungo. Ora come ha detto la mia compagna di viaggio tra lo spazientito e l’affettuoso: “La nuova Chicago è dentro di te.” Poteva dire Boston, o Valencia. Da quando sono tornata non mi è mai rispuntata la voglia di fuggire altrove. Adoro viaggiare, possibilmente per periodi lunghi per immergermi nella cultura locale. In ogni città mi sento a mio agio e dopo meno di un giorno è come se la conoscessi da subito. E qui ritorniamo al fatto che mi piace scoprire camminando. È un dono, o perlomeno io lo considero tale, quello di poterti calare ovunque con la voglia di “carpire” tutto ciò che c’è attorno a te e lasciare che sia il luogo a parlarti. A volte sembro strana, ma ne vado orgogliosa assai.

Eppure ho bisogno delle mie radici. Non escludo di potermene andare via, magari anche a breve. Non si può escludere nulla, perfino Berlusconi scende di nuovo in campo. Dev’essere il campo di Holly e Benji, quello che non finisce mai, lungo come l’emisfero terrestre. Spero che i gemelli Derrick gli entrino a gamba tesa.