22 April 2008

spring musings

This past week, we've been enjoying some time with the last of our "spring guests" who are visiting from St. Augustine, and this past Saturday, fellow-blogger, Sara, organized an Expat Get-Together here in Florence. About 30 or so of English-speaking expatriates met at a pizzeria in Piazza Signoria. The weather ended up to be beautiful, and we enjoyed meeting everyone in the outdoor terrace. It was great to finally meet in person, many other bloggers who I've "known" (through emails and blog posts) for a couple of years now!

colors of florence • view of the city • sunset on the Arno

We're down to about 1 month left here in Florence before we leave for a summer back in St. Augustine. There are a lot of our friends and family that know the ins and outs of our decision-making over the past several months. I'm sure I'll be updating more as the time goes by, but there are some options on the table and whatever happens, I look forward to the adventures that await...

In the meantime, I have some of my random observations...

The city has become more and more colorful to me as we've lived here. When we first visited Florence several years ago I remember thinking how monochromatic it was - and I only remembered the aesthetics as a sea of beige and creams, burnt red color roofs, and forest green shutters. I remember thinking how all the buildings looked the same to me and even wondered if I could ever find my way around. Now, almost everyday I find more and more colors to admire, and the streets all have a different personality to me. The green hills in the distance, the varied tones of oranges, reds, yellows, browns, and grays of the walls emit a warm ambience even on cloudy days, and now that spring is blooming, there are red poppies, purple wisteria, white gardenias, and plenty of pink wildflowers everywhere. I will never again see this city as varied shades of beige, but it will always hold a colorful image in my mind, especially since the physical beauty is layered with the life I know that lies intertwined within it.

When we leave town to travel, after several days I begin to get the feeling of "just wanting to be back home", in my comfort zone again and in familiar surroundings. And when we finally arrive back at the Firenze SMN train station and walk the familiar streets back to the apartment - we do feel like this is a home now. It feels familiar. Which roads to take comes naturally, and many days of the week, we'll see familiar faces in the streets. There is a routine here and I've come to really enjoy the tasks that a lot would categorize as "inefficient": having to go to specialty stores for different types of products instead of a "one-stop shop", waiting 3 days for jeans to dry, not having a car, dealing with no oven and a mini-fridge. I like having to stop by the farmacia (pharmacy) for contact solution, the mercato (market) for fruits & veggies, the supermercato (supermarket) for boxed food and paper goods, the forno (bakery) for bread, the pasticceria (pastry shop) for sweets, and the latteria (dairy shop) for cheese.

I have my niche here and absolutely love the days of spring (although we're still getting the colder, rainy days more often than I'd like right now). I like hearing Italian when we watch tv or walk outside the apartment. It sounds so familiar to me now, and without thinking about it, I understand most of what is being said. Somewhere my mind stopped translating into English and began associating meaning with the Italian words. Now that we know the date that we have to leave here for a while, everyday I'm trying to take in more and more as I walk around the city. We have our favorite bars where the bariste recognize us; I help at a food-bank on Thursday mornings where I've met a wonderful group of women; we participate in a bi-lingual worship service on Sundays; and we even know the pasticcerie (pastry stops) schedules for when the ciambelle (donuts) come hot out of the oven (9:30am Pane e Cioccolato, 4pm S. Marco, and 4:30pm Marino's).

I'm so thankful for our time here and know that Italy will play a large part in our future, whether it be through regular visits of shorter stays without special visas, or even perhaps a proper long-term visa in the years to come. There are several lessons I've been learning since our move, and one of them is taking things as they come while enjoying where we are at this moment...not always planning ahead so we lose the beauty of 'now'.

13 comments:

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

beautiful post.

erin, it was so nice to meet you and chris "in person". I look forward to seeing you two in the fall when (not if) you return.

bleeding espresso said...

So lovely. Italia has been very good to you it seems :)

Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

It was wonderful to meet you, too! I look forward to seeing you in Milan, too - keep me updated...

Jeffrey said...

Hi, I'm new to your blog, but wanted to comment on what I have read so far.

It really seems like you passed "culture shock" a long time ago, and you have now developed a routine and become accustomed to Italian culture. It's amazing how your own culture and the new culture you live in become fused together after having experienced what the city has to offer. The most satisfying thing has to be when you no longer have to translate everything in order to understand it...your daily life in a new country becomes second-nature.

Wishing you luck for the remainder of your stay :)

Beatriz' suitcase contents said...

Your writing is a language of love for Italy, I am so glad to read such a positive, inspiring post. Good luck to you, and keep us posted on any developments.

Sheena said...

beautiful post. This is where I wanted to get when I first learned we would be living in Sicily. However, I learned very quickly that unfortunately, a military overseas experience is very different from really living overseas. I am trying to get out there more, though, since we're coming up on our last year here. I'm so happy for you that you guys enjoyed your time in Florence so much, and that you really allowed it to become a part of who you are. I hope to accomplish that this year. Ciao!

'A Tuscan view.....from Umbria' said...

As Doris so rightly said "che sara,sara". Julian says it might be spanish though, in which case "Que sera, sera". Whatever! I love the 'kiss' photo, where ever you two end up I am sure you're going to have a wonderful life together. X Amanda

Figcharlie said...

Leaving so soon? I completely understand.xx

Tina said...

Beautiful post my dear, and even more beautiful pictures! As Michelle says, Italy has been very good to you. :-)

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

This is such a beautiful post...Your right, take your time to savour all that is given to you..the food, the scenery, the culture.

What an amazing journey you have been on :-)

erin said...

GRAZIE everyone for the encouraging comments!

Jeffrey: You're right about finding our routine, and I completely agree how nice it is to not translate everything anymore. Thanks for reading :)

Sheena: Yes, get out as much as you can and enjoy Sicily while you guys are there...we've found Italy to be absolutely lovely

Amanda: Now you have me wondering if it's Italian or Spanish too :) We hope Italy is in our future for sure...but I hope we choose to make wherever it is wonderful for us

figcharlie: actually, we wish we could stay longer, but hopefully we'll be back after we sort out some visa stuff.

My Melange said...

Glad you had such a great time in Italy. Makes me want to live there even more now.

I hope for your sake, you get to come back very soon!!

Eryn said...

great post! i had a pic of that orange apartment bldg taken on this trip :-)

we also even managed to try il rifrullo which is nearby!