If you ask any passionate traveler, they’ll tell you about that one place that changed it all — the place that turned you into a world traveler and keeps you in search of that magical energy everywhere you venture thereafter. It’s not a fling, not somewhere you visit once and move on. It’s a place you visit in your mind, constantly and at the drop of a dime, because that’s how deep it left its imprint. It’s a place that resurfaces in your dreams to remind you of how beautiful the world can be and that you can do anything. It’s a part of who you are.
His name was New York, and he was tall, dark, and handsome, with very poor hygiene, but incredible charm.
That was before I met Firenze.
I didn’t know I was about to find a major part of myself lying around somewhere along the upper-calf region of Italy. It was my first time going to the land of espresso and olives, mopeds and Romans; I didn’t know what to expect except just that. Naturally, I was excited. I was an American who bought into the deep nostalgia of where I was headed, and this book that no one’s heard of – Eat, Pray, Love. Looking back, I was only prepared for the eat part.
I fell asleep on the train and awoke to find the dreamy Alps had dissolved. I switched trains in Milan, and when I boarded again, a darkly handsome, perfectly coiffed, middle-aged Italian man rushed to his feet to take my backpack out of my hands and lift it into the overhead storage. THAT is when I realized I was in Italy. And that is when I realized how excited I was, because I didn’t care that this man had just grabbed my bag out of my hands without asking.
The feminist in me was totally speechless. So I sat back in my reclining leather seat and smirked myself back to sleep.
I arrived in Florence around 9pm and headed straight for my hostel. I could already feel the Renaissance around me in the shadowed outline of the buildings and narrow pathways, but I was in logistics mode. I checked into my hostel, put down my enormous backpack, walked back into the night, and let myself enter the present – in a city wrapped exquisitely with the past.
The women all appeared to be wearing their hair down and floated beside their partners in long, gauzy dresses. Their trains trailed behind them on the breeze, flitting down corridors and across an endless chain of piazzas.
Around every corner, there was music – a lone violin bled into a meandering harp, which faded seamlessly to cello. The warm vibrations filled the entire piazza, and couples draped themselves over marble steps and one another, utterly absorbed in the moment.
Everyone was caught up in the nostalgic, yet awakened energy of the place. It was like Body Snatchers, but in a good way? Instead of being surrounded by an army of slimy, shrieking alien clones, I was amidst an entire city of entranced beings vibrating at a higher wavelength, swaying in unison to soaring strings, and completely at peace in an enchanted new world.
Then, just when I thought I couldn’t feel any more stupefied, I rounded a corner, and there was the Duomo. I knew it by name, but not by face. There’s no mistaking that building though. It’s like a charley horse; the second you experience it, you get what everyone was talking about. That structure still feels nearly impossible to describe.
I could tell you what to see in Paris, where to go in Barcelona, or what to eat in Chicago, but I can’t tell you a thing about Florence before telling how it made me feel.
Cloaked in a Florentine sunset
I walk the maze of streets
Alone and alive
Falling on faces
Skin turns to light
And all is illuminated
My mind forever traipses those passageways
That captured shards of golden rays
On stone walls, centuries-old
Where I approached a river
Still and black as the sky
And left my ties in its waters
Where I sat and drank
Floating through piazzas
On a gust of wind
And a dream
Where a marble monster
Shook me to the core
Then lifted me in the air
And showed me the world
Find out how you can fall in love with Florence this summer at Greenheart Travel’s Teen Summer Language Camp.