It all started with un progetto di classe (a class project). I was in my second semester of Italian language and culture. After learning all about grammar and basic conversational skills, we had finally arrived at the cultural part. It was time to pick scrambled chits from a bowl with a list of Italian cities. Ah, I was lucky enough to get Firenze!
The already known fact that it is the city of the lily (il giglio) motivated me incredibly. While I was researching I was fantasizing to the point of being obsessed—I was certainly being delirious. My class project had made me into a daydreamer. I had started imagining my morning chai as caffè ristretto, lunch rotis as pane sciocco, gulabjamuns as schiacciata alla fiorentina. My long walks in the Lodi Gardens were transformed into strolls in the Boboli Gardens. My heritage expeditions from lal kila (red fort) and the lotus temple had converted into the Palazzo Vecchio and the Duomo.
To me a project was just not enough to describe Florence. It was a city that launched the most supremely talented works of art and artists. No wonder it is referred to as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Now in class whenever we talk about Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello or Michelangelo, or when we flip the pages of Dante’s La Divina Commedia, it makes me ecstatic and stimulates my senses as I know their works transcended a place called Florence.
Even though here in India doing my undergraduate studies in Italian language and culture has been like going against the tide, it has been extremely exhilarating and has given me a fortuitous introduction to Florence. My professors, fellow students and I create our own Italy here at the University of Delhi, India.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to visit the mystical city of Florence, but as I save penny by penny in order to finally breathe in the brilliance that evokes there, and as time passes by, my restlessness increases to meet this city like a long-lost lover. I am assured that what all I have read and seen in books and pictures will come to life, but more importantly I know when I reach there it will surely be magical.
In the beginning when I had opted to study this course, a common question was, “Why Italian?” For my relatives and neighbours it was not the usual science of mathematical calculations, but now that I know why, with confidence and pride I can say the reason is Florence.