Day 11 — The magnetic pull of Florence.
I don’t remember the addresses of many places I’ve lived. Every once in a while I’ll come across on old checkbook and think, “Huh, I used to know that address by heart,” or “Wow, I had forgotten that zip code.”
But not so with Florence. At just the thought of the words "Via Cavour,” the memories drift through my mind like the smell pesto pasta wafted through our small apartment every Thursday at noon—slowly and very, very welcome.
I never thought I’d call a cramped two-star hotel home. Just three blocks from the main religious attraction in the entire city, my little home sat three floors atop the crowds, keeping my classmates and I serenely free of tourists but still close enough to walk to sights more beautiful than I could’ve ever dreamed of.
In the few months my university allowed me to escape to Florence, I did it all.
A wine tour through Tuscany. A walk up to Piazza Michelangelo to attempt (and fail) to take in the entire city’s beauty at once. A trip across the Arno for the best gelatto in town. A hike up to the tip-top of the Duomo. Drinking superb boxed wine out on a park bench. A train ride to Pisa to hold up the entire tower with just one finger. Sitting on the floor of the Uffizi because why did nobody tell me museums are so tiring? A hysterical laugh-fueled run home from the bar with my girlfriends, dodging tourists and sketchy guys blowing kisses in the historic center. (What was so funny? I can’t remember.)
Six years later, I found myself adding another experience to the list.
JJ led me through the cobblestone streets. With six more beautiful days of Florentine paradise before us, he asked, “So, what’s the plan? What are we going to do?” I replied, “It doesn’t matter. I just want to be here.”
The night was young, but jetlag pulled on our bodies like lead weights. We walked aimlessly, open to whatever each side street offered. My hand on his shoulder, we balanced on the uneven bricks of the sidewalk—until ethereal organ music stopped us in our tracks.
Hidden in the street’s narrowness, I hadn’t even noticed the church’s tall facade. I craned my neck to look up at its Etruscan beauty before we walked in and took a seat in a back pew. There was no service going on, no priest at the front of the small room, nothing in particular happening, other than beautiful music playing for a random collection of strangers. We sat there for the better part of ten minutes, basking in the dim yellow glow of the candles strewn around the room. And when we were ready, we got up and walked back out into the crisp Florentine air.
We almost walked right by that church, but Florence invited us in.
Florence invited me in and kept a piece of my heart, some of it sprinkled on Via Cavour. All I can do is go back and visit it as often as I can, just to feel whole again.
Trying to capture my love for Florence in words is so hard. It’s overwhelming sometimes, and I miss it every single of the days. I hope this story made some sort of sense? :-)
Thanks for reading Day 11!