Aeroporto di Firenze, October 5, 2013
It was September 5 when I landed at Aeroporto Di Firenze, a quaint little airport in Florence. It took around 45 minutes in line to catch a taxi at the airport. One by one, the taxis arrived, definitely taking their time despite the intolerant gestures of some passengers.
Florence first appeared before my eyes as a quaint little suburb with super flat structures and a small-town feel to it all. And it continues to be so as I am taking this taxi ride back to the airport a month later today. The millions of passengers passing through this town, crowding the streets of the historical center days and nights, do not seem to bother this small little town. Florence has got its own pace and nobody on earth could speed it up.
When in Italy, one could not pass the opportunity to walk up a coffee bar in the morning just to take that espresso shot the Italian way. I know I have every single morning for the last 30 days. Take it easy though! The bar man won’t change his pace even if there are a thousand customers waiting in line. He’ll look at you like he’s got all the time in the world and that you, who are dying for that caffeine shot, has got no where else to go but that coffee bar.
And as one walks the streets of Florence admiring the magnificent architectural pieces of arts, whether at Piazza del Duomo, Piazza San Lorenzo, or along the riverside towards Ponte Vecchio, take plenty of time for a gelato stop, a coffee stop or a pizza/pasta stop. The restaurants and gellateria will take their time. No one is in a hurry. Your order will come when it comes. End of story! If that does not suit you well, you’ve got no where else to go any way. I am amazed and amused at the absence of bully fast-food brands that are sweeping across the globe. The only mark of globalization is the presence of a few McDonald’s, and mind you! by no means appearing to be in your face! Choices are plenty for Italian treats whether at caffeteria, gellateria, or trattoria. Florence does not seem to care for the pace of globalization. It’s moving along at its own pace, no matter what.
Florence to me is paradise for those who enjoy strolling around. Time of day is never an issue. One gets to enjoy the differentlook and feel that this elegant lady has to offer, whether the subtle intimacy of an early morning, the musical passion of a midday or the sublime sadness of an early evening when lights gradually go out from the street shops. Florence takes time to rest. There is no consideration whatsoever for the burning desire to shop, nor for that open purse or wallet scouring the display windows every night.
“Is this Florence, really?” I was obviously caught by surprise. This holiday city is definitely on holiday. Life is taken one baby step at a time and there is plenty of air to breathe. What if one can take the spirit of Florence back and allow one’s city to be on holiday?