To wake up and realize you are in yet another country is fascinating. Sleep is sleep anywhere, but being awake is an entirely different thing. Stepping outside into the dense humidity and looking down at a large magnolia tree, listening to a different group of birds singing definitely changes the perception of the day.
Armed with our water, backpacks, good walking shoes and a map (yes an honest to goodness paper map) we head out from the apartment into the city of Florence. We have committed to embracing and noticing even the smallest things – and the first for me was the beautiful key and door lock on the apartment. Think Harry Potter and the sounds the keys made when turning in the lock
It makes me a bit giddy.
We wander down streets, listening for cars and scooters behind us, ensuring we are not beeped at by paying attention to traffic. We both wonder out loud if growing up here allows you to have a different spacial awareness of your body to traffic. Surely one can’t continuously fret about being smacked by someone going by every day?
We have no agenda, only to find some food and coffee, with a marketplace on the map marked if we find ourselves in that direction.
A coffee shop grabs our attention, and we are greeted with a hearty Bon Gioro! We smile and greet in return. “What you want? Coffee?”
Certainly, and that lovely croissant, oooh and that one. And hot chocolate?
“Ah yes, for you, yes”
We sit with our beautiful steaming drinks, flaky pastry and breathe deep the smells of this shop. The biggest joy is understanding that this is what people in Florence, and as we observed in Paris, do. You stop by, grab a coffee at the counter with your dog, you read the paper and head to work.
It is the same at home, but so different. It is almost like an undercurrent of enjoying the moment slides through every day life. Smiles, greetings, even disagreements, are met with a different passion level than I have experienced.
It’s living differently. You can see it, almost touch it if you pay attention.
I cannot describe for you the depth of my hot chocolate, the sheer joy in drinking it. The smell and texture alone bring a small tear to my eye. It is nothing short of decadent. I am forever ruined for hot chocolate.
But its worth it.
Our breakfast done, we walk. No specific place we need to be, just enjoying the architecture of each door and window we pass. Things are so old. And revered. Things are not thrown away, they are repaired. We pass a man repairing a shoe while his customer waits. We see workers repairing the street in a way that the new looks like the old. We see much construction and restoration, and that is the difference, it is restored. Not replaced.
Another difference from what we see each day at home. Old is not bad, it is meant to be cared for.
Not for just for things, but for people as well.
Think about that.
Before arriving I was warned by friends that shopping is an experience. Personally, I tell people that I am not quite the normal female in that shopping is not my thing. In fact, I hate it, unless it is online and involves Amazon Prime. Now THAT is my kind of shopping. Click – pay – deliver. No people to deal with, no mall, no trying on. Just send it to me.
But this, this shopping is new. It is to be embraced, and experienced. Yes, yes I know it is my vacation, and would I truly embrace it if I still had to go to work in the morning?
I think yes, if I was living my life in the way that make moments matter.
Needless to say it was a successful journey of shopping – soccer scarfs, postcards, gifts for friends and family, and maybe a few things for me. Rediscovering linen dresses – yes that was another happy moment.
Food, wine, gelato – it is all everywhere. Again with the smells, I close my eyes and try to commit them to memory. I want to take the smells home with me. Mariah and I each have moments of sheer delight while eating dinner, almost unbelievable moments of bliss emanating from food.
As night falls, much past 10:00 PM, we being our travels back towards the apartment. People still walking everywhere, some clearly tourists like ourselves, others clearly making Florence their home. I watch as they return to their own apartments, calling to their friends above, as windows open and Italian flows down to us. I smile each time we see that occur – how often that appears in a movie and you think “that doesn’t really happen.”
But it does.
Sleep will be elusive – time changes don’t seem to settle quickly, but tomorrow is a day planned with biking and touring. We hope to see more of the city other than what we know is the shopping mecca space we have enjoyed so much.
I asked for advise from friends on Facebook on where to visit in Italy. So many responses with good answers, and I started to worry about what we would not see while we were here. Looking at maps and plans, travel suggestions, and I started to feel like it wouldn’t be enough time.
I paused that thought process, and decided we are so happy doing what we are doing, why am I trying to cram in more things to do, instead of enjoying what we are doing? That thought matched with a post from a friend, who encouraged the same thing – enjoy what you are doing. Don’t try to see everything. Make sure you are really seeing the places that you visit.
Good advise from a smart friend.
Lessons learned today:
Be present and enjoy what you have. Think of the phrase “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Why does it take us so long to figure out that that isn’t true! Even in the hardest darkest moments, we can find the hidden gems of joy. We just have to look.
People in this city appear happy and welcoming. Each minute we hear another Bon Giorno! Caoi! Garze. It is the salutations that warmed my heart today.
Food may be better than air right now. Maybe not possible, but grateful for the opportunity to expand my culinary knowledge past the hours of TV cooking shows watched while in the hospital.
This is much better.