I cannot believe that I’m already one month into this journey…
On the one hand, it does feel like I’ve been here for a while: I’m settled in to a place that feels like my home and my city. I’m a regular at a grocery store, a convenience/wine store, the corner caffe, and the bar down the street. I’ve bonded with a couple professors. I’ve befriended locals. I’ve said yes to a myriad of new experiences–from attending a discothèque, to cooking handmade pasta, to taking a flaming Sambuca shot, to attempting to read an Italian book, to playing poker with Italians and more. I’ve learned more information about Renaissance history than my brain could possibly retain. I’ve mastered the art of walking cobble-stone streets in heels. I have a running route around the Arno. I rarely need to use my map. I spend free time sitting at piazzas and sites without the urge to take pictures, but just to enjoy the atmosphere and read. I can form sentences in Italian and am–for the most part–past that helpless deer-in-the-headlights phase. I successfully bargain with shopkeepers. I prefer Italian bars over American student-packed bars. I’m confident and comfortable, and am often mistaken for a local because of it. And I feel like I’ve done laundry about 18 times already.
But on the other hand, there is still so much to do, see, and taste! I have visited some churches, but have yet to enter most of the major sites–the Duomo, Uffizi, Palazzo Vecchio, etc. I haven’t completed one sketch yet. I haven’t met enough new people. I still get lost (in the sense of taking indirect side streets towards an intuitively correct general direction). I’ve only traveled outside Florence once so far. I’ve only been to a handful of bars. I’ve only dined out a few times. Hell, I haven’t even eaten gelato yet.
Yet, every day and night is full of rich experiences.
These weeks and days are flying by faster than I’d wish. I’m making sure to make every day count, but that still does not leave me with nearly enough days! I did, in a sense, unfortunately “lose a week” from being so sick. And the recent Ice Age of Florence lasted up until only several days ago. But the other factor is that I’ve just found a few favorite places to go, things to do, and people to see–enough to regularly keep up some extent of repetition. This is repetition I enjoy, that still holds its aspects of unexplored excitement. But for now on, I’m making an extra effort to really seek something truly new each day, in addition to what has become familiar. This week, I shall climb the Duomo, visit a photography museum, enter the Baptistery, go out to dinner, try a new bar, buy a ticket to see a Fiorentina vs Cesena soccer game, and speak more Italian. And it all starts now… Off to the Central Market for the first time (finally) to gather some delicious fresh ingredients for a [hopefully] delicious dinner tonight 🙂