Saturday, February 6, 2010

La Passegiata

I walk around Florence every day. I know, you can't believe it, either. At least once everyday I'll be walking and think something like "This is so unreal!" or "Am I really here right now?" or "Holy Shit." On my way to and from school everyday I toss David a peace sign, say whats up to Brunelleschi, and smile at Ghiberti. "FOR REAL?" Thats another one. In those moments I really appreciate everything I am doing while I'm here. I feel sometimes like I'm living someone else's life-like these experiences couldn't possibly be happening to me. The best part is when I realize that these experiences are, in fact, happening to me. I see something beautiful on every via I walk down. For instance: Nothing like some Bob to bring the world together. There is a man who stands on another corner who plays his accordion (video to come, be sure to check back) and two guys on another who play the saxophone and guitar. I am sure to pass by at least one musician playing sweet music every single day. I walk past art. There are sculptures built into the walls of random homes here. There are sculptures everywhere you look, actually. You'll see paintings in random holes in the walls and there is an art store on every street. Its incredible how artistic this city is. Sometimes I'll be walking and suddenly realize I'm walking through a post card: the picture perfect Italian road post card with the narrowness and the stucco buildings and the one shining lamp. I walk across the Arno and look at the Ponte Vecchio from afar, sometimes in the daytime with the mad Italian chatter and tourists all over and sometimes in the nighttime when the stars shine down (because somehow stars come out in this city) and the streets are empty. Its becomes more and more unbelievable every day. But I only get that feeling in the day for just a moment. Walking around Florence is an art that must be perfected in order to stay clean, stay sane, and actually survive.

I wrote in an older blog posting that I would post my assignment for my Travel Writing course about the most suprising phenomenon I've experienced while in Florence. Here it is: It’s been two weeks since my arrival in Florence, a bustling city rich with history and host to a culture very different from my own. The experiences I’ve had here have been fresh and exciting. I’ve been exposed to works of art older and more magnificent than any in my country. I’ve climbed 463 steps to view a city so beautiful that I could never do it justice with words. I’ve learned to exist in a culture where I cannot walk around in my sweatpants or bring my leftovers home with me. Gelato has become something of an addiction and I must always include wine with my lunch and dinner. Sometimes I’ll even include it with my breakfast. I’ve met people and been places I’d never have dreamed of in America. New things are around every corner and I find myself looking forward to each turn. The only surprise I don’t look forward to when I turn those corners is one underneath my foot. This town offers an excess of phenomenal things different than in my country yet there is only one that never fails to stop me in my tracks: poop.

I come from what I’m beginning to realize is a very clean country. Even the Manhattanites, whose lives are so busy they never seem to pause for a breath, stop to pick up their dog’s poop. Florentines seem to think that their sidewalks will magically absorb their dogs poop and so they just leave it. A person can’t take two steps in this town without coming across a fresh pile. Pooper-scoopers were invented a long time ago, Florence. I think it’s time to get with the program. Walking down the streets in this city is like walking through a mine field. What’s the use in spending 150 hard-earned euros on a pair of leather boots from Pollini if the first time I wear them I’m going to step in poop? I’ve seen huge golden labs leave heaping mounds of the stuff smack dab in the middle of the sidewalk as I’m trying to walk down it. It wouldn’t be so disconcerting of the owners didn’t walk away from the mess completely unashamed. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to get rid of those messes. You Florentine dog owners need use your leftover busta’s and pick up the poop. It’s unbecoming.

This, my dear readers, isn't all the Florentine streets has to offer. Litter. I swear, after the San Lorenzo closes up at around 9 p.m. there has formed on the streets an entire landfill. Its filthy (and directly outside of my apartment). There is also graffiti, accept not the good kind. My friend Fresco once mentioned that he felt weird peeing on buildings so old. In his words "I could pee on a building thats maybe 250, but once you get to 5 and 600, thats a little uncomfortable". I think if I were a guy and able to do such a thing I would feel the same way. This is precisely why I am so completely baffled by the amount of ugly graffiti on the walls of these buildings. Hundreds and hundreds of years old and the poor things are covered in graffiti that simply says "Yogurt" in green. It's not even good graffiti. If you're going to put graffiti on a building, any building, at least have a modicom of skill in the art form. Don't, for Christ's sake, put one word (and not even an Italian word at that) in a shade of ugly neon green.

I have to admit, though, I lucked out. I come from the Jersey Shore and am therefore well practiced in the art of tourist evasion. I know how to weave my way in and out of tourists whose feet seem to rise and fall in slow motion. I feel for those who haven't had the opportunity to hone this skill. The Japaneese tourists are the worst ones. Trying to walk through the waves of asian tourists is literally like trying to walk through waves. Waves during high tide. That is to say it is nearly impossible. They don't speak English OR Italian and trying to communicate "Get the fuck out of my way!" to them is impossible. The only alternative is to push straight through them-right through the center of their packs.

Finally, the most horrible thing about walking along Florentine streets is that I fear for my life when I do it. I imagine most of you readers have heard that Italians drive a little crazy. I assure you, that was an understatement. Even the people on bicycles seem to aim themselves at the pedestrians. I'm required to look both ways exactly 600 times before I can cross a street safely and even then my window of safe passage is limited and I must haul ass across the street. Italians WILL hit you with their cars. Beeping at you over and over is a courtesy. I've jumped out of the way of speeding cars more times than I've crossed the street here. Speeding probably isn't the right word, though. Speed limits are a suggestion here, and so I suppose the only word to describe the speed at which the Italians drive is normal. Normal speed. Speaking of suggestions, the pedestrian stop/go signs here are jokes. When the "walk" sign turns on I know better. They are trying to trick me, I'm convinced. They want me to get hit by a car. Or closelined by a guy on a Vespa. One day I'm going to become so frustrated that I'll turn the tables and closeline a guy on a Vespa myself.

Regardless, I still love walking around in this city.
Arrivederci, for now.
Love, Gabby


  1. HAHAHAHA i love.. "One day I'm going to become so frustrated that I'll turn the tables and closeline a guy on a Vespa myself."

    miss you, cant wait to see you!

  2. that musician is my hero. next time you see him tell him he's my hero. YOU NEED TO DO THIS. ps. I MISS YOU. D: