A Personal Reflection from Florence, Italy in Fall 2009
By Aynsley Doyle '13
Italia is where I live. Not the Italy known to the tourists who rush from the Uffizi to the Coliseum to the Leaning Tower of Pisa in a few short days. Not the Italy that's known for the beautiful scenery or the irresistible gelato. I live in Italia. Italia is said to be an alluring maze that one should get lost in. I get lost in this maze every day. The cobblestone vias trick me down side streets, taking me blocks in the wrong direction. Italia is a maze and I would love to stay eternally lost.
I'm not another tourist who sits outside the villa with a glass of wine letting the Tuscan sun tan their toasty cheeks. I live here; I've felt the cold here. It's not the cold that slowly seeps into your life day by day, but rather the abrupt wind that slaps your cheeks on mornings you least expect it. It's not like home. It has that chill that travels up the spine and back down to the tips of your toes. With every inhalation my throat proceeds to twinge with a raw ache. I am cold. My numb fingers beg for mittens while my legs thank me for ash tights and charcoal leg warmers. I make my way to the café for that mid-morning comfort.
Coffee, coffee, coffee. My body is begging me for a steaming-hot, delicious cup of caffè latte. I meander past the gypsies and vendors of Piazza Santa Croce to my café of choice. The adorable man behind the counter starts my order before I even ask him. We both smile at the other's familiar face. I sip on the soothing espresso/milk combination while my thoughts wander. Coming back to Earth, I flip through the pages of an art book. My eyes dive into each image. With my last sips, my hand slips to the bottom of my bag to forage through receipts and bottle caps for coins to cover this pick-me-up. I give the ancient coins to my dearest supplier and say, Ciao! while I mosey out the door.
I make my way to the classroom that is the inferno to my divinely comedic education. I shed layers of cotton as the heat rises while the window's mouth stays shut, cutting off the city's energy to which I yearn to return. Fans whistle monotonous tunes while I doodle on the poetry my teacher loves so dearly. My pen bleeds out with scratch marks in the form of trees reaching for something greater than I will ever know. My ears block the sound of incessant ramblings while my foot taps to the beat in my head. My eyes constantly lock with the hands of the clock for a staring contest. The clock always wins and I lose in more ways than one. I spend too much wasted time in the white walled cell when I should be wandering through the maze.
I break free and find myself again lost in the maze. My mind adores the chance to be free to roam. After class my mind is over-filled with the knowledge of those who came before me. Those aspiring artists who inspire me are now battling each other for a space in my brain. After shuffling from one museum to another I need a chance to let it all seep in. As I saunter back to my apartment I contemplate asking the carino Italiano for a ride on his Vespa. My feet don't fare well on long treks over uneven cobblestones. My body aches from the cold that's forced itself into my life while my stomach craves a vegetarian burrito and a thick milkshake. I disregard the thought and continue.
I rush over the ancient streets of the unending maze back to my apartment and pour myself a little teacup of wine. I live in Italia, and I have found myself by losing myself in its maze of history and culture. Along with the art and beautiful caffè lattes, wine is culture here, and it is thicker than water. My eyes scour the shelves of the local market for pink ribbons and years long past. On these cold nights, culture is pumping through my veins. The red liquid soothes my mind while warming my cheeks. I let the Tuscan perfection greet my lips and hug my throat. I pour another teacup and my mind wanders in and out of conversations. Before long the time has slipped away while the pendulum of my mind still sways. I make my way to the top, where I am not alone.
Above the city is where my heart lies content. On this roof I can see the Duomo, the heart and soul of this city. My heart and soul lies on the rooftop next to them. Wrapped in hoodies and blankets, we all cling to each other for heat. The wind whistles around us, but mumbles keep us distracted. We lie on our backs as our eyes lift to the stars. The masses of light are prettier than we could ever be. The same masses that I used to look at with others, before I even met this new family. Above the city, my heart lies content.
Aynsley Doyle spent her first semester in Florence, Italy, as part of the first Global Beginnings program in fall 2009.