How do you live in a tourist city ? How can a student in Florence for only 4 months live here without their stay becoming one extended tour of major sights? The fear of feeling like an idiot when returning home for not having seen every famous palace tempts you to desperately follow the tour book’s advice. But we all know that real life isn’t sightseeing. So the question remains. On an afternoon in Florence when the homework is done (or not), how does one find the Italian life that is hidden behind the souvenir shops and mobs of foreigners snapping pictures of the Duomo? After three months of I believe living here I feel I can give you one piece of advice. Let the cobblestones guide you.
I won’t ever be able to explain to you how enchanting it has been to walk on cobblestones every day. For Italians they may seem common place but for Americans they have a romantic sense about them. The cobblestones have been the guide that has given me the tour of real Italian life. Wherever they seemed to lead I followed.


In my early days here they were what led me to my favorite place to get a caffe latte and tiramisu across the bridge. They led me to the many open areas where huge numbers of pigeons gather. Like an oversized 5 year old I ran into the group of them figuring they would fly away scared. I didn’t anticipate them swarming and sending me running scared. The cobblestones led me to the few quiet places in the city where I could hear myself think again. They led me to hidden pizzerias and tiny art galleries.
florencetowerThe cobblestones took me around the Ponte Vecchio instead of over it. Walking across it you can get lost in the brightly shining gold and forget to remember that you are walking on the only bridge to survive World War II. The cobblestones took me to the piazza where the crazy man sits in the corner and yells at people as they walk by. They showed me churches plainer than Santa Croce but still charming. They showed me parks to eat gelato in or sit and watch dogs or baby ducklings pass by. Most important of all they showed me the people. They led me through and around the faces and voices of locals, immigrants, gypsies, children and of course tourists. Those faces that remind you that even though we are all different, we are basically the same. I could give you the names of all these places but that would defeat the point. Then I’m just another guidebook telling where to go. The point is to let yourself wander your new home. No maps, no names of places, only your instincts turning you. Just follow the cobblestones.

Caitlin Janiszewski

Under the supervision of:

Angie De Angelis
LdM academic advisor

Scuola Lorenzo de’Medici
Florence, Tuscania, Rome
Via Faenza 43
50123 Florence, Italy
Tel. +39 055 287360 / 055 287203
Fax +39 055 2398920
www.lorenzodemedici.it
www.lorenzodemedici.org

Comments

  1. Awesome. You are so fortunate that you are living there and have discovered a way to be a tourists yet be a native. How cool. I been on two cruises that way and twice the port stop was “Florence” but there are so many things to see in Itlay, we never actually made it there. But now I know what to do when I get there! Thank you.

  2. Awesome. You are so fortunate that you are living there and have discovered a way to be a tourists yet be a native. How cool. I been on two cruises that way and twice the port stop was “Florence” but there are so many things to see in Itlay, we never actually made it there. But now I know what to do when I get there! Thank you.