In the morning, the city hums outside my apartment windows. Shortly after the sun rises, I am awakened by the garbage truck that beeps as it reverses into position in the piazza below. I bask in the sounds of my beloved city as it awakens. I slowly get up when I hear the church bells ring seven times. At the same time, I hear the workmen at the cantieri (construction site) in the piazza arrive and greet each other. These are some of the familiar sounds in my neighborhood that I associate with being home in Florence.
The first thing I do every morning is open the window shutters and see the ponte (bridge) casting its long shadow over the Arno. The cool air gently flows past me and fills my apartment. I stand there looking out at the piazza below for a brief moment to admire the colors all around: the green and blue Arno, the pastel-colored façades of the buildings with their terracotta rooftops, the different shades of green in the Giardino Bardini behind the buildings as well as the bushes along the wall above the Arno.
I found an apartment on the other side of the Arno that I fell in love with. I put in an offer to buy it, but it was refused. Before putting in a second offer, I decided to visit the apartment one more time. I had already visited it five or six times with various people, but this time I wanted to see it by myself.
I walked around the apartment, trying to imagine myself in it: waking up in the morning, working during the day, writing, cooking, and just enjoying the space. The view from the apartment is absolutely stunning, which is what I loved about it the most. I could see some of my favorite monuments, but I couldn’t see any people walking around and no river shimmering. I opened the windows and peered out at the street below, but there wasn’t anyone walking down it. It was also incredibly silent. A part of me would love the silence because at times it is noisy where I live, but I almost felt as if I would be secluded from Florence and its vivacious energy.
On my walk back to my apartment along the Arno and across the Ponte alle Grazie, I felt almost sad at the idea of living far from via dei Neri. After living the last eight years in this neighborhood, I truly feel at home here. I have created great friendships with many of the locals here and enjoy the life I have in this area. I especially love seeing the Arno every day all day long, which I realize brings me great joy that I cannot let go of. It is probably the first time in my life that I feel a strong sense of home in a specific neighborhood ever since I left the area where I grew up in California.
I have never been afraid to say goodbye because I know that shortly afterwards I would eventually be saying hello. My sense of home has become stronger since I began splitting my life in two cities. That sense of home is even more important now to me because I truly need it. Bouncing back and forth between two homes, I need to not just feel comfortable where I am, but also able to relax and regenerate myself.
It took my almost buying an apartment to fully appreciate the one I am in now. I am fortunate to have realized that my apartment and my neighborhood have so many qualities I desire and truly need in my life. Who knows what the future holds, but right now my apartment is my home and I want to enjoy every day that I get to fall asleep in it and wake up in it.
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