Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

Habits and my Florentine friends

Friday, November 30, 2012

For the past few days, Iíve been picking back up my daily abitudini (habits) that I have when Iím here in Florence. I go to Vivoli or Giacosa for colazione (breakfast), shop for food in via dei Neri, and visit my friends who work in centro (downtown) when Iím out walking around. One of the nicest feelings is when Iím walking down the street and someone I know calls out to me, ďCiao bella!Ē I love that in Florence, people I know take notice and have even become closer to me now that they see me less habitually.

At the rosticceria (rotisserie) where I get prepared food sometimes, they now know my name. Iíve been going there off and on for over five years, but never did we exchange names. Maybe itís because now I live alone in Florence, I go more often and then disappear for longer periods of time.

It feels natural for us to now say hi to each other using our names. Itís a comfort to me: living in a place where people arenít very mobile, I feel as if we have become closer just by knowing each otherís names. Itís as though smiles seem wider and words even kinder now when I return to Florence.

When I went for colazione yesterday, I was greeted by the two women who work there and they told me that they missed seeing me. One of the women said, ďRiprendi le tue abitudini? (Taking back up your habits?)Ē

For me, itís a treat to take up abitudini as if my life hasnít changed as much as it truly has. I love sip my cappuccino and chat with them. Even if I only stay for 10 minutes, we connect. We ask each other, ďCome stai? (How are you?)Ē, and sincerely care about the answer; itís not just a formality between us.

Florence isnít just a beautiful city with a powerfully creative energy, but itís also a place where I feel at home. I feel embraced not only by the city, but also by the locals. When I walked out of the bar, I was overjoyed to be this fortunate. People I see on an irregular basis acknowledge me, notice when Iím not around, and seem to care about me. Itís as if they are friends that I can find any time I want. We donít schedule our encounters; it all just happens fluidly and easily. When Iím in Paris, I miss a lot of the people I see regularly. All my friends I can easily contact by phone or email, but people I see in my daily life I can only connect face-to-face. I definitely feel their absence from my life.

Creating meaningful bonds with people I see regularly is certainly one of the joys of my life in Florence and I am always eager to get a caffŤ at my bar because I know that I will be welcomed with a warm smile. Itís part of what makes me feel at home in Florence. Itís not something I have experienced much elsewhere so I definitely cherish my amici fiorentini (Florentine friends).

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