Nutella, Cobblestone, and Architecture

View from the Duomo (Florence, Italy)

Last weekend I took a trip to Florence. The city was smaller than Rome, as expected, and instantly all of my travel companions and I fell in love. The streets were calmer and filled with less traffic, the Duomo dwarfed all other buildings and the museums and art was plentiful. Our waiter at dinner was perfect, he joked with us about what we ordered, warned us to not eat too much bread, and appreciated my attempts to carry out a conversation with him in Italian. My weekend was full of amazing sights, food, and interesting people. My favorite activity so far while in Italy has been climbing the innumerable steps to the top of the Duomo. Along the way there are windows to the outside and as I peered outside of them, I would take off a layer I had worn inside, and wonder how many steps were left until the top. At each point, I was nowhere near close to the real number. The steeper the steps got the more anxious I was to be a the top and see the prize that awaited my climb. The sun hitting my face and the breeze of the wind on my bare arms was exhilarating enough, but it was nothing compared to the view from the top. I could have stayed up there all day. I might of if I had brought more food and water with me. Words cannot describe what I witnessed that Saturday morning. Cathedrals and huge buildings seemed miniscule in comparison with when I had stood before them. The haze that Florence is famous for couldn’t damage the majesty of the city that sprawled out around us. It was worth the eight euro and the mini work out to reach the top. It would be worth much more in my opinion.

After seeing Michelangelo’s David and admiring what we could in a short weekend in Florence, we hopped back on the train to Rome. As soon as I stepped off the train and caught a whiff of the familiar Roman air, I realized how much Rome has become a home for me. The past couple of days here in Rome, I have found a greater appreciation for the city that I have been living in for the past three weeks. After unloading the dishwasher and putting away all of the nutella cups we have accumulated in the apartment, I realized that nutella has replaced most condiments in my diet and is now a major component of my diet. I have it on crackers and fruit for a snack, on my morning cornetto (pastry), with my greek yogurt, on toast, or just a spoonful. I have assimilated into the nutella culture. My roommate and I talked about buying a gallon jug for our apartment for the rest of our stay. We see them all the time as decorations in the many gelateria scattered around Rome, and found out that they are only thirty euro. The purchase would be economical, but a tad extreme. Plus I have enjoyed our stack of decorated nutella cups and jars in the apartment cupboards. Also, when in Florence I missed the irregularity of the cobblestone streets and sidewalks. I know that might sound absurd, as most of the time I have to watch the ground instead of your surroundings. But, I have found that in the short time I have been here, the cobblestone has become easier and easier to navigate. I no longer need to watch my step for the dip or bend in the mosaic-like pavement, I just roll with it. The paved sidewalks and streets in Florence were too standardized. I missed the need to constantly survey the topography of the street, and the dodging of a moto or macchina as it weaves it way through the narrow streets lined with shops and parked cars. In Florence, my adopted Roman mentality of “just go the car will move around you” when walking did not mesh well with their cities accepted practices, and so I oddly longed for the twisted, narrow streets of Rome. The other thing in my current trio of obsessions is the architecture of this city. Every time I discover a new regione, or

Florence, Italy

Atop the Duomo

neighborhood, in Rome it seems that the architecture shares a certain level of cohesion with the other, but is slightly different. Like the architect shifted ever so slightly the personality of the buildings to better fit the area in which they rest. Among the streets I roam everyday, I have started to greatly admire and revere the huge cathedrals and churches that erupt out of nowhere and are peppered around Rome, like eggplant in a delectable pasta. They loom over those who stand before them and yet invite you in. The duality which it presents is unlike anything I have experienced this far. The latin engravings and statues on the outside add to the awesome power each building. Overall, the aroma, the buildings, the people, even the street vendors who have yet to sell me an umbrella when its raining (I am at true Seattlite afterall) have all drawn me in and fostered my love for the place I now call my home.