My all time favorite thing to say in Italian is this: L'amore che move il sole e l'altre stelle. It just rolls right off the tongue doesn't it? For those of you who don't speak Italian, this phrase means, "the love that moves the sun and other stars." This is a line from Dante's Inferno and to me, the very most powerful.
I believe that we should all love something, someone, or somewhere that moves us to a deeper level. For me, I love a few things that much. Clean sheets, good beer, hot showers (yes, I do in fact love these things on such a level), my family, my friends, my boyfriend, and of course, Florence.
Voted the number one city in the world, Florence is the most incredible and awe-inspiring mixture of complementing contrasts. Step out of a modern art museum a piazza away from the burial sight of Renaissance masters. Eat some of the most amazing international food in a place known for gnocchi and chianti. Start the day appreciating masterpieces at the Uffizi and then end it at underground clubs. Hang out with travelers and locals alike and feel comfortable roaming the streets at 3 am in the real city that never sleeps.
To be honest with you, Florence feels different this time around. The magic is still there, but it is more familiar. All mystery and infatuation in my relationship with this city has turned into familiarity and deep-rooted love. I remember the night I got into Florence last year like it was yesterday. As I was flying into Pisa, I noticed the clouds were quivering with rain and a nasty thunderstorm. The hour long car ride from Pisa to Florence was dark and the only time I could see anything was when lightening would clap and I could see, even if only for a split second, fields of sunflowers, rolling hills, and ancient cities. The best part of it all was when we arrived in Florence. My driver looped his way around the city and as we passed the Duomo, the rain was falling harder than ever and the thunder and lightening had a way of setting the energy for my six weeks: it was about to be so powerful and moving that it would completely change my outlook on life.
And it did! I met incredible people, saw happy tears-worthy places, ate so many carbs my body went into shock, and as cliche and sappy as this sounds, made memories to last a lifetime. Florence made me cry, made me laugh, inspired me like I thought I could never be inspired, and tested me like I have never been tested spiritually and emotionally. I am who I am today because of the summer of 2014 in Florence.
This year has been one of major changes. I went from a girl who wanted to be eye candy who now strives to be soul food. I would rather learn a new phrase in a language of some place far away than mindlessly watch TV. I appreciate food and drinks for more than just their taste and price, but rather about the story behind it and the people who made it. I am a huge believer in fate and destiny and that what happens has a reason and because of this, I realize most people don't get this caught up in what was supposed to just be a study abroad experience, but I think that this was my path. That if I had not taken this opportunity and absolutely immersed myself in it and stretched it out as far as I did, that I would not have been and continuing to be molded into who I am and where I plan on going.
Now I am back with one of my loves. I feel at home. I don't know where the next three months may take me, but I can guarantee I have a wild ride ahead of me. Federico Fellini once said, "life is a combination of magic and pasta." If there was ever a way to describe my Italian life, I think this could be it. The magic may feel familiar and the pasta may taste the same, but what is important is that I am here, I am present, and I know I've got a good ways to go with my story still ahead of me.