Florence is a different way of living.
I’ve been a city girl nearly all my life. I used to take a normal 40 minute train ride to and from my high school. As I tell my host mom this information, she’s in shock that a daily commute would take that long. After having lived here for a week, I can physically feel the slower pace of life.
Today is domenica, Sunday. My body naturally woke me up around 10. I took a good hour to shower, dress and have a cup of tea. Then I walked out for a lengthy lunchtime meal at a restaurant three minutes away. Appropriately, in early fall Florentine fashion, it started to rain. This time of year is rainy season apparently. But the sun soon shone through and some close host family friends arrived. We entertained them for over two hours, chatting about whatever over primi piatti of pasta and secondi piatti of meats and olives, finishing with fruits and dessert and a good cup of espresso. I cannot help but compare this experience of a lazy Sunday to one back in Chicago. My family would be running in and out of the house trying to get errands done or meet up with friends, making efforts to make the most of a day off. Here, relaxing meant really relaxing. It was leisurely going about the day, seeing where all the time will take you.
My roommate and I live in a residential neighborhood in northeast Florence, but that means nothing because the walk to the city center is a mere 30 minutes. Florence surprises me with its abundant nature. There is lush green life on every street. It enhances the hills that surround the immediate city. Although I have only spent a week in my host home, I am inspired by the way my host family has made their home a continuation of Florence itself. It is vibrant and full of life; we have a garden filled with greenery– a grapevine even hangs above the outdoor dining table!
The city also has great conservation efforts. Our host home is big into recycling and composting, which the city encourages by posting giant color-coordinated bins out on the streets for compost, plastic, paper and glass.
I’ve been to the city once before on a high school trip, but my impression this time is deeper. I’m not viewing the streets as a tourist anymore, but as someone who will be spending three whole months here. I look forward to making a home out of the “Walking City”.