Hi, I'm Angi
Welcome to my corner of the internet! My passions include travel, photography, books, music, Japanese language and culture, Italian language and culture, and art.

Here at Abbott Lane you'll find my thoughts on these topics and much more. Thanks for stopping by to visit!

A Return: Thoughts on Florence

Photo by Heidi Kaden on Unsplash

In a little less than a week's time I'll be back in Florence, Italy a place I called home at one time, but that I haven't visited in 13 years (!!!). Even though I haven't set foot in Italy in such a long time, I feel like going back to Florence will feel similar to riding a bike - everything will feel just a little familiar.

I'm curious as to how I'll feel going back. My relationship with Florence is complicated. The city vibrates with a transitory energy. It's a small city, but it attracts an estimated 15.4 million visitors a year. Italy overall is the number one destination for study abroad students, and many of them head to Florence. For this reason, Florence has an ugly side. People can be aloof. It's unbearably crowded at times. Relationships are hard to maintain. And it attracts a lot of lost souls; people who are looking to get away from something.

I think I was certainly one of those people when I left New York for Florence at the age of 30, to study and live there for a second time. After nearly eight years in NYC, I felt completely burnt out and was ready for a massive life shift. Having lived in Italy before, I knew Florence would provide just that.

What I hadn't come to terms with at the time was the internal work that needed doing. Why was I unhappy in my situation? Why was I looking for such a drastic change? And what, exactly, was I looking for? No city, no matter how jewel-like and beautiful, can provide those answers. And interestingly, I met a lot of people who seemed equally adrift, who were looking for more out of life, and who were desperately unhappy, sometimes verging on the edge of self-destruction. My situation wasn't quite as dire, but in retrospect I recognize that I was running away from a life in NYC that wasn't satisfying and I was unclear as to what my next steps should be.

On the flip side, Florence is also filled with amazingly creative, smart and passionate people. My professors were wonderful, and I had the (unfortunately far too infrequent in this day and age) time to give my soul a breath of fresh air. I got to spend time doing nothing but feeding my insatiable curiosity; to write and explore and document. I was surrounded daily by some of the most inspiring and profoundly important art in the entire world. And I met people who I still consider friends today. It was a time that I was able to reconnect with raw beauty and learn some lessons - both of the soul kind and the academic kind - and I'll be eternally grateful for that. I don’t regret my time there at all, but honesty and the gift of time to reflect on it all force me to acknowledge that it wasn’t easy or perfect.

So I'm looking forward to heading back; to making peace with that part of myself that felt so unsettled and awry thirteen years ago, and to reconnect with the parts of Florence that I loved. I'm looking forward to seeing it with fresh eyes...walking the city streets in the early morning, being inspired by Tuscany's natural beauty, engaging with Renaissance art again, and soaking up everything that Florence offers so easily and in such abundance that it makes your head spin. It's such an amazing city if you're in the right frame of mind. And this time around, I am.