So, I'm finally going to try and put this wanderlust into words.
For a while now, I've called Florence home. And the only people who seemingly have understood why are the people in my life that have traveled the most, or studied abroad, too.
Yes, I can see where it seems entirely crazy to call a city that I spent four months in almost three years ago my actual home. I grew up in Connecticut, and went to college just 30 minutes down the road from my hometown. But, there's something undeniably pulling me back to this place -- that in its simplest form is comforting, and kind of the same feeling as falling in the best love.
Florence has the feel of a city mixed in with a quaint Italian town. Some streets are lined with designer stores, and others are tucked into neighborhoods and have the best hole-in-the-wall pizza places that you'll ever find. School buildings are old palaces, so you can stare at frescoes on the ceiling during class. And the art studios are right up against the narrow sidewalks just like a storefront, with bikes lined up just outside the door.
You can spend your afternoon in a coffee shop sipping on a cappuccino, or sketching in a museum and nobody would look twice. Happy hour is replaced with aperitivo, and you can squeeze in some homemade seafood pasta, or a fresh (and I mean unbelievably fresh) and flavorful panini, for lunch at one of the many spots just down those cobblestone streets. And if you're feeling adventurous, you can hop on a train and spend your weekend just about anywhere in Europe.
Being able to wander without worry, and appreciate the view of the Duomo from the balcony of my apartment was something I'll never stop dreaming about. Those moments when I was there with a glass of wine in hand and just talking about life with friends I would've never made if I didn't travel -- well, that's why I always want to travel and see this world. 'Cause truth is, this happens everywhere you go. This happens every time you travel.
Florence will just always have my heart because it was the first, and an experience where I was surrounded by people who just understood. My Italian art teacher understood how you can lose yourself in what you create, and that there's a balance of how serious you should take life along the way. My study abroad friends understood why really long bus trips and sketchy airlines were worth every adventure. And being in a place that so prioritizes culture and living in the present was oh-so refreshing -- and much needed. To this day, it's hard for me to find any of that in my hometown, and as homesick as I was while I was abroad -- the minute I landed in JFK, I wanted to go back to the beauty.
Sure, life isn't always so sweet. Stress finds you no matter where you wander it seems. But, if it comes to you because you're in the midst of an adventure, and not just in the pursuit of doing something boring and mundane -- suddenly your mind looks at it as experience.
Getting thrown into a semester full of the unexpected meant taking every uncomfortable moment and making it into an adventure. Nothing was average anymore, and sure I could make this my mindset in everything I do no matter what my lifestyle may be. But, I have way too much wanderlust to stay in one place.
So, why is Florence home? Simply because it's where I feel most understood. It's where (*Cue the cheesiest phrase of all time.*) I found myself -- and who I want to be, and where I became such a passionate person. It's the first place that made me realize that there's so much more in this world, and defined what it really means to travel, at least to me. It's where I surrounded myself with so much art, and fell in love with living life.
This year my wanderlust will take me a lot of places, including back to Florence. I'll pack up my TOMS backpack for another adventure, do some hiking, and maybe even take a solo trip. They say you can find the feeling of home in people, places, and moments that pass you by. For me, I'll always find it in Florence and now you don't have to wonder why.
Love always, Marisa