Sunday, May 30, 2010

Vespas are like clocks

Yes, it's true. I have decided the zippy little hum of a Vespa engine is the best way to tell the time of day from inside (or outside) my apartment... well, that an the ping pong table below my office window (but that's for another post). I can tell it's late at night when the Vespas come in a random sequence every few minutes, or so. I can tell it's morning, when there is a steady stream with only a few toots of a horn to break the sound. I can tell it's late in the afternoon when, in fact, I don't notice them at all. And I love them.

Vespas (or scooters, actually) are able to maneuver around obstacles in the road and on the sidewalk without hesitation. This puts me at ease when I am running the Florence city streets... I never worry about colliding with a scooter... they'll get around me. They are small and efficient. They are cute.

And that's not all. There is so much else about Florence that has become a part of my regular routine. I am used to sipping espresso in the mornings and evenings. This is new for me, as this is my first visit to Florence as a coffee drinker. I am used to showing no reaction (while smiling on the inside) to the hollers of "Mama Mia" from the market vendors or the shop keepers, who like to LOUDLY compliment all women of all shapes and sizes. I am used to dogs everywhere, beautiful art, and animated people.

One of the things that I am still getting used to... is the genuine kindness the Italians have demonstrated to me. Like it's nothing at all, a fellow professor gave my parents and me a 2 1/2-hour of the Uffizi Gallery. The tour was offered, after we (literally) bumped into him in the museum. This tour was nothing less than world class, but when I thanked the professor he simply replied, "I really enjoyed it too." And he did. From extravagant homemade dinners to simple directions, there is no shortage of hospitality here, and that is helping me reset my clock a little, too.

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