I am sitting on the wall of the Arno at dusk, tranquil and thinking about how the the summer is fading away. For the last few weeks I’ve been enjoying the tranquility of an absent Florence population, as many residents have been on vacation, most of the neighborhood shops have been closed, the market was empty, the post office had limited hours and the pharmacy wouldn’t make any appointments.
But as compared to last year, there have been many more tourists flocking the major piazzas. It feels so much better this way, because last year the poor American economy had a somber effect on Florentine business. This year the merchants who did stay open were pleased with the increase in tourism.
Now, residents are starting to return from their vacations with deep dark tans, the passé way we used to tan ourselves in New York. They are happier than you ever see them. They smile at you in a way that they don’t smile in the winter. My piazza, which is about 5 yards from my house is starting to get lively again. Soon Giovanni will return from his month in Sicily to sell flowers in my piazza again, bringing my piazza back to life. How he makes the whole neighborhood happy! He is the "mayor" so-to-speak, of the piazza!
The merchants in the outdoor market are back, aggressively offering bargain prices, free bunches of basil and parsley, in hopes of stimulating their business again after their long absence. I am starting to see figs in the market and my favorite Claudia plums are now as sweet as they get. Fish is on sale because people are not thinking fish anymore. They are starting to think autumn. They are thinking of mushrooms, apples, and berries.
The grapes are starting to burst on the vines. It is beautiful, but it means that the summer is coming to an end. The olive trees are bearing hard baby olives. You can even see fields of autumn squash starting to bloom. The plum trees are spilling their fruit. Last Saturday I rode with my squad and when we reached the top of the climb to La Panca, the guys on the team were waiting for me at the top offering me a handful of plums that they picked off a tree!
The mosquitoes are disappearing and the moths are reappearing. The motorini and noise is increasing. You hear laughs, cries, motors, ambluences, church bells and motorcycles all at the same time. A charming chaos. Florence is coming alive again, after a few weeks of closed stores and a lack of services. International students are starting to fill the streets again, getting ready to start their junior year abroad. This week the tourists started to disappear, as they are all going back home to get their kids ready for school.
The days are getting shorter and I am sad that there are only a few weeks of summer left. I don’t want it to end. I don’t want to sleep because I want to live every minute that I can and soak this all in before its gone. I am so grateful that I have my health, that I have people and friends who love me, and that I have Florence.
I still think a lot of my friends in Southern California and New York and miss them and hope they don’t think I have forgotten them. I am trying to keep in touch and recently joined Facebook and put my blog out publically, to make sure that I keep connected with people that I love and miss.