Thursday, May 13, 2010

Come on, San Lorenzo, I've only got 2 days!

You know, San Lorenzo, I haven't complained that much. You wake me up every morning. Poles clatter to the ground, bouncing and echoing up the walls and to my ears through my thin windows. Your vendors shout to one another from blocks away and yes, their voices carry. They wheel their carts in for hours, as if they line up from blocks away and drag their elephantine contraptions across the streets one by one. Your daily rumblings, San Lorenzo, begin at 4:15 a.m. on the dot and they continue until each and every one of your vendors have set up their carts. Then the tourists come. They flock to you in the hopes of bartering and bantering, back and fourth and back and fourth. Their elevated tones reach me in my bed by 9 a.m. the latest. Below my window a man blasts the same playlist of party music from 1987: The Way You Make Me Feel followed by Video Killed the Radio Star followed by Material Girl. Sometimes he mixes it up and plays some modern dance music and once I was even suprised at 11 a.m. with select songs from Motley Crue. Walking through the San Lorenzo mid-day is another sort of noise altogether. With one ear I tune out the cat calls of the men. They always open with a "Ciao bella" and as soon as I hear it I know to shut myself down. With the other ear I tune out the seven different languages blabbering away about this pashmina scarf or whether or not to spend 200 euro on that leather jacket. On any given day the language I pick out of the crowd is differnt, but I always rest assured that I will hear some Italian, Japanese, Albanian, and of course English being spoken. The daily San Lorenzo ruckus, well, I've grown used to it.

Why, San Lorenzo, have you decided to increase your torments? I've only got two days left until I leave Firenze for good. I'll never have to wake up to you again. I'll not be subject to the relentless noise you produce each morning. Why are you trying so hard to make my last two days miserable? I woke up this morning to the sounds of whistles. Blaring, nonstop whistles. They were the metal ones, the fireman kind of whistles that ring in your ears and leave you with headaches. The San Lorenzo market is known for its strikes, and when the vendors strike they make all sorts of commotion in the streets. This morning it was the whistles. Later in the day I was alarmed by a decible of shouting so high that I actually stuck my head out the window to see what was going on. I'm used to the shouting, but I was actually concerned about what I was hearing. When I poked my head out the window I saw two men beating the fuck out of each other. One guy even had chains that he was flailing around, managing to repeatedly miss the guy he was aiming for and hit a vast majority of the onlookers instead. I've never seen a fight last so long. I'm amazed at the lack of law enforcement that happens in Florence. These guys went at it for at least twenty minutes before their friends managed to break them up. They went their seperate ways. Another twenty minutes passed before the howling of the Carabinieri rang down below. They made it to the scene just in time to see the last of the shattered glass from the bottle that was smashed over one of the fighter's heads swept away by a vendor. Later in the evening the racket increased, like usual. The San Lorenzo was closing up. After all the clamoring of the poles and the shouts to fellow vendors began to slow, I heard them. Gunshots. That unmistakeable sound of gunfire. Maybe I'm crazy and it wasn't guns, but I'm pretty damn certain it was what I was hearing. I think there was a San Lorenzo festival happening where guns were shot into the air because there was a huge crowd outside the church. After each gunshot went off the lot of them would scream and cuss and yell at one another in the square. Another gunsot rips through the air. And another and another.

Its late at night now, or better yet its early in the morning. Today is the last day I will spend in Florence and I'm spending it dog-tired. I leave first thing tomorrow morning to take a train, leaving behind my four-month home. I wish I could have called it humble. Instead, I'm sitting here thinking bitterly how crappy it was to wake up every morning to those fucking poles falling to the stone ground. In the middle of the night the San Lorenzo shit right on my last thoughts of sleep. Right beneath my window a group of six or seven gaggling girls stood, huddled together ceaslessly Wahooing, screeching Italian profanities into the night, and cackling like a bunch of stark-mad idiots. A few minutes of this, and then the horrendous sounds of vomit splashing on the ground roused me from my bed completely. I went into my kitchen (for the first time sparkling because we are leaving tomorrow) and sat down, seething. I haven't slept since.

Arrivederci, for now.
Love, Gabby

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