by Melinda Gallo

Getting lost and finding friends

This morning I rode my bici (bike) from our apartment to viale dei Mille where I had an appointment. I haven't ridden my bici in weeks because of the rain and the cold weather, but today I figured I'd take it instead of walking. Viale dei Mille is outside of the mura of the city and I seem to lose my bearings quite quickly when I go outside of the centro storico (city center).

I arrived to my appointment just fine after going down via dei Servi, crossing through Piazza Santissima Annunziata, and then taking via G. Capponi. I remembered the way to get there quite easily, and was actually surprised with myself.

When I picked up my bici again to go home, I had a feeling that the roads I had to take were different because the ones I took to get to viale dei Mille were mostly one-way. At one point, I turned down a street that I recognized, and even felt quite confident.

It wasn't until I saw the fioraio (florist) on viale Mazzini where Alessandro brought me my 84 roses last year that I suddenly realized I wasn't where I thought I was. By chance, I saw a friend of ours, Filippo, who was in his car. I stopped alongside his car to say hello. After talking for a few minutes, I asked him if I'd end up in via Fra' Angelico if I continued down the street in front of us. "Ti sei persa? Did you get lost?" he asked me jokingly. I had to fess up even though I was quite embarrassed that I had lost my bearings. He instructed me to turn down another street behind us and cross the viale to take down to the lungarno (street that runs alongside the Arno river). The way I was heading would've taken me too long to get to where I was going to go.

When I got to viale Gramsci I realized that I was near Piazza d'Azeglio. I decided to take that street as I understood roughly where I was going. When the street became a one way street in the opposite direction, I tried to be careful with the oncoming traffic and yet appear confident. I recognized a few buildings that made me realize that I was approaching the mercato di Sant'Ambrogio. When the street got too narrow for oncoming cars and me and my bici, I got up on the sidewalk and parked my bici at the back of the mercato.

As I was walking toward the mercato, I ran into one of my ortolani (green grocers). "Ma dove sei stata? Where have you been?" I explained to him that I haven't gone to the mercato in at least a month for many reasons: busy work schedule, the rain, and sheer laziness.

When I walked into the mercato, a few of the people I know who worked there cried out, "Ciao!" I was touched that people noticed that I hadn't been around, and even asked about me with other people that I know at the mercato. I went from stand to stand to talk with the people I usually interact with. I was happily surprised when almost everyone asked me if I was happy about the elections and what I thought of Obama.

I spent almost an hour at the mercato and only purchased a few items for us. I hadn't planned on going to the mercato, so I didn't have the bag I use to put all my other bags inside of it to transport on my bici.

I placed all the shopping bags in my cestino (basket) and had to swing my purse over my shoulder so that I could ride my bici home. I took my normal route down via dell'Agnolo and then left on via dei Pepi.

Even though the Piazza Santa Croce is supposedly a zona pedonale (pedestrian area), I try to dart across the piazza as most other people do on their bici. I saw my friend's boyfriend Angelo who is a painter in the piazza. I stopped and talked with him for a while because I hadn't seen him in a few weeks either.

As I was parking my bici in our piazza, I was happy that I got a little lost today because I really enjoyed chatting with Filippo, my friends at the mercato, and Angelo. I've been so busy these past few weeks and have had a limited amount of time to see anyone that I enjoyed my impromptu and chance meetings today. I should take my bici and stray from my path more often.

Share your comments for this blog post on the Living in Florence's Facebook page. Grazie!