Something Familiar, Something Florentine
Updated: Sep 3, 2020
A Writer's Guide to Florence Based on Five Emotions
By Lea Rose Allbaugh and Hailey Koebrick
Whether on a side street across the Arno river, or in the midst of the masses staring up at the famed duomo, nearly every corner of Florence can evoke, reflect, or provide a cure for the array of feelings one might face. With a pen and paper in hand and senses awakened, a tourist attraction can be turned into a place of wonder, and a simple piazza can harbor feelings of melancholy. Here, something familiar can be reimagined into something Florentine.
Noun: a cause of astonishment or admiration
“Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.”
- Betty Smith
Wonder. From top to bottom and left to right, absorb the intricacies of the duomo’s famous pink, green, and white marble facade. Allow the clamor of tourists to become background noise and freeze the moment in time. Stare up in awe. Notice the variety of shapes and ornamentation, and let the collage of religious scenes and carved figures consume you. The duomo symbolizes Florence and in many ways, may be overlooked as a site to check off a tourist’s guide to the city. Each time you stroll by, stop and look up at it; do not take it for granted.
Noun : strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties; affection and tenderness felt by lovers
“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other”
- Audrey Hepburn
Find yourself in a scene from the most cliche romantic movie: couples swaying to violin music like palm trees on a breezy day; a sunset streaked orange and pink, brushstrokes from an unseen artist; picturesque views of the city sprawled out beneath you. Sickeningly sweet but irresistibly romantic, Piazzale Michelangelo is the premiere spot to go if you are in love, or just want to be surrounded by it. A rendition of “Chasing Cars” plays behind you and reality fades away because love can be a bubble. The scene you are in has played out thousands of times across screens and book pages but it is your job to discover something unseen and new; write a love letter or poem addressed to the city.
Adjective: a longing for home and family while absent from them
“We are torn between nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not we are homesick for the places we have never known.”
- Carson McCullers
Greasy, fried foods; fresh pasta; steaming dim sum. All around the world, food provides a sense of comfort no matter the occasion. This is why Mercato Centrale can be a place to battle feelings of homesickness or to seek familiarity. The market offers international options that are sure to remind everyone of a cuisine they have at the very least, tasted. Food brings people together. The melting pot of cultures is amplified by the many travelers who wander its halls, looking for a change. Let the sweet taste of summer tomatoes marinate on your tongue as you try a classic Italian sauce. Inhale the sharp smell of parmigiano reggiano cheese. For something different, bite into savory pork dumplings dipped in soy sauce. Let the broth warm you from the inside out. Take out your notebook and scribble the experience; the colors, the commotion, and the way food wraps you in its embrace and transports you home.
Adjective: causing or tending to cause sadness or depression of mind or spirit
“Nothing's so dainty sweet as lovely melancholy”
- Francis Beaumont
You have walked the streets, seen the sights, and checked things off your list. Melancholy washes over you and a quiet bench is what you seek. Escape the bustle of the city center and settle down in Piazza dei Ciompi. Sit in the shade under its long, stage-like platform, or rest on a warm, sun-drenched bench in the center of a flower garden. This is a place to be pensive and thoughtful; it’s a place for a writer. Reflect on Florence and let your pen speak its truth.
Noun: the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions; a sudden brilliant or timely idea.
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
- Louis L’Amour
Florence has settled into your bones. The bumpy roads have you beat and the sights have you sleepy, but you are not quite done with this city. It’s time to reflect inward; it is time to write. Around the corner from the duomo is Biblioteca Oblate. Practice speaking Italian by asking for directions or choose to aimlessly wander through its maze. Nonetheless, climb the stairs to reach a terrace which overlooks the duomo itself. Order a macchiato; sip the strong espresso topped with milk and regain the energy to conclude your day. Gaze eastward at the red dome where unmatched Renaissance arches line just one side of the characteristically Gothic church. You are in the Florence of the present taking in the Florence of the past. Be inspired.