A final Florentine farewell

An intense wave of nostalgia

Rachael Harper
July 29, 2016 - 15:40

Staring out of the taxi window, I can barely contain my emotions. The streets whizz past, like the millions of thoughts rushing through my mind, the past five months rewinding before me. Five whole months had led me to this point, the point I had liked to think would never come, the point of admitting to having fallen deep into that clichéd trap of so many before me, the point of leaving behind this beautiful city.


Dusk from Ponte alla Carraia | ph. @helencfarrell Dusk from Ponte alla Carraia | ph. @helencfarrell


An intense wave of nostalgia, pounding like the oppressive throb inside my head, I think back to it all, the good and the bad, beginning to end, this whirlwind journey I’ve been on, this absolute time of my life. From that first taste of gelato and realising it was the best 1 euro 80 ever spent to taking that first juicy red bite of Florentine steak. Waking up to the saluting song of the Duomo bells and sleeping to the strangely soothing sound of scooters and street music. Getting lost in the side streets and losing my way in every corner of the Boboli gardens. Muddling through with my hazy spoken Italian and being welcomed open-armed by Florentines, with their exceptional eye for facial recognition and their C’s pronounced like H’s.


Florence has changed me in every way; from the way I think and see, the way I taste and feel, the way I live.

Those peaceful mornings nursing my pre-work cappuccino and cornetto, chatting to Piera who knows what I want before uttering a single word. Those amusing afternoons in the office, sat round the lunch table, listening to my Italian colleagues express themselves in all kinds of colourful ways. Those warm summer evenings sat on the Santo Spirito steps chatting aimlessly with friends, my mouth watering from the best pizza imaginable. Those sunsets, like no other, so diverse in colour, never ceasing to amaze, twilight upon twilight. Those nights singing and dancing at the Red Garter, those smells of the non-so-secret-anymore-bakery filling my nostrils in the early hours of the morning and those enchanting walks home through a deserted piazza Signoria, not a soul in sight, alone with the city. Those were the perfect moments.


The not-so-perfect ones were the icy days when the only way to keep warm was in bed, and even then I’d still feel the pang of morning chills ricochet off the terracotta tiles in my apartment. Those humid, summer months with that constant clamminess and shine on my brow, stepping out of a cold shower, not to feel any cooler than when I got in. Those piercing mosquito whines that kept me awake at night, leaving their unsightly, itchy marks.


Thoughts turn to home and to seeing my family and friends. When asked the inevitable “How was Italy?” I know no words will suffice and I’ll just smile and say, “Yeah, really good, thanks”. How can I even begin to describe? Florence has changed me in every way; from the way I think and see, the way I taste and feel, the way I live. It has changed me in ways I never would have imagined when I arrived all those months ago; it has changed me for the better.

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