The first thing I do on my first Saturday back in Florence is shop for groceries on via dei Neri. Not just because Iím eager to get my hands on some local produce and favorite Tuscan delicacies, but also because I get to reconnect with all the shopkeepers who have become good friends of mine. While I am away, my marito buys groceries and they always ask about me and tell him to make sure he says hello to me. Iíve sent them postcards and brought back pensierini (little gifts) from Paris. They rarely take breaks from work and seem to enjoy hearing about my travels.
What should probably take me about 10 minutes to go to three shops and pick up what I need actually takes me about an hour or so. I donít just enter, ask for what I want, and leave. I chat with a few of the shopkeepers in my neighborhood, who to me are like family. We know about each otherís lives and have shared much of ourselves with each other. Weíve even introduced family to each other. If we see each other three times in one day, weíll still stop and chat with each other.
When I walk down via dei Neri, I appreciate it when my friends greet me and ask me how I am even if I donít enter their shop. It certainly makes me feel at home. Itís such a nice feeling to know that people noticed my absence and are happy that Iím back. I feel at home in Florence already by how the city makes me feel, but it is wonderful to have a bond with others who live here. Living in any city is a wonderful experience, but having people who are as happy to see you as you are to see them is a true gift.
I love reconnecting with my friends and getting back in touch. Two weeks away seems long at times not only to be away, but also to be here in Florence. I feel at times that I miss out on my Florentine life, so itís great when I get to reconnect and feel plugged back in so quickly.
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