Firenze-SMN central station: arriving alone in a foreign country

Firenze-SMN central station: arriving alone in a foreign country

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I love the Florence-Santa Maria Novella train station for many reasons. For instance, its loudspeaker announcing the arrival of the Milan train by the binario otto and the departure to Venice by the binario due, or the smell of the railway machinery and, naturally, because of those who travel to other places. It is also wonderful to arrive alone in a foreign country, feeling the assault of transformation. The Italians are still here, busy living. The rhythm of their lives is different, while I am a complete stranger, an eccentric or maybe not. A friend has recently told me: “You are acquiring a past in Florence.” That´s an assertion — without going into grim details — I find not very encouraging, nonetheless quite revealing. Because, above all, I love to attraversare il binario ed oltrepassare la linea gialla.

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Surviving the night in Florence with an anti-mosquitoes kit

Surviving the night in Florence with an anti-mosquitoes kit

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Without a doubt, the most unpleasant thing occurring in Florence is mosquitoes. Actually, none of the tourist guides alert (especially to those sensitive to the bites) about this annoying particularity. Thus, it is advisable to get an anti-mosquitoes kit in any supermarket, even if it´s only for one night. I have tried them all and can recommend as most effective the electric type, either liquid or in tablets. Best so to enjoy the pleasure of open windows or a terrace at night. Due to its humidity, mosquito repellents are indispensable in Florence, even during the winter!…

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Not a home but your home

Not a home but your home

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I am here a few months per year to please my voracious curiosity, searching meanwhile for some luck. The coexistence of different historic periods gives Florence a certain air of timelessness. Thus, I walk through these foreign streets as if my ancestors had left their trail in establishments and sidewalks; as if this is the home to which one always wishes to return. To my astonishment, I have discovered I feel at home in Florence. I especially sensed it through the intense joy, or rather euphoria, felt at the time of arrival. Also through the sadness, almost depression, lived at the moment of departure. Next comes the longing for the piercing song of the starlings and the tolling of the bells, as opposite to the exhausting sirens of police, ambulances and the squeaking rattle of the Berlin tram.…

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Being an expat in Florence

Being an expat in Florence

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Meeting a foreign resident in Florence makes me wonder: “What brought him here?” (love, work, despair, art heritage, studies, food, wine, people, indecision), what moved him to stay here, what do I have in common with this person (at first and apparently quite a lot, and sometimes, in reality, nothing). However, what differentiates us, I sure know. It is usually, with natural exceptions, the routine. My discontinuous / intermittent stays in Florence let me enjoy the city with a renewed intensity each time. Such joy, I am afraid, might become ruined when choosing a permanent residence.

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Berlin vs. Florence: a perfect binomial?

Berlin vs. Florence: a perfect binomial?

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I have always been keen on extremes. I consider myself excessive and I have never been able to recognise the so-called “medium term”, so linked in my opinion to mediocrity rather than moderation. I would never describe myself as a restrained person, neither in my actions, nor in my passions, nor in my thoughts or feelings. A bit cyclothymic, too, as I sense everything with absolute bipolar intensity. Although apparently Berlin and Florence do not have much to do with each other, they are two cities of extremes, thus matching each other. In multiple ways, the two cities stand for the avant-garde as well as for Classicism, so it is with contemporary art in Berlin and the Renaissance of Florence. The modernity of the German capital and the Tuscan tradition; the spiritual chaos of Berlin and the delicacy of Florence; Berlin decadence and the Florentine refinement; the debauchery in Berlin and the Florentine composure. To mention just a few aspects …

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Touched for the very first time in Florence

Touched for the very first time in Florence

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My first stay in Florence was in piazza del Mercato Nuovo at the end of September 2008. I recall how lost I felt then, trying to find the hotel with a map in my hands. I still do not know the name of the streets and alleys, but today I could certainly move around the city with my eyes closed. I remember one particular night when, disappointed by a date, I drank a whole bottle of limoncello (yes, I’m that kind of person) that I acquired in Pisa. The following morning, I was stroke by terrible news: my friend and artist Cocó Ciëlo had been murdered in Madrid. That was the first time I walked to piazzale di Michelangelo. I had a beer or two there and cried while contemplating this majestic town. Where you led me, Florence, that fateful night? All I could feel was irrational disgust, as the city had become a carrier of bad news to me. But we later reconciled. And, as in the most intense and passionate stories in literature, we have lived since many ruptures and reunions.…

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Florence – To love a city

Florence – To love a city

PHOTOS & SPANISH VERSION BELOW

I feel often the captivating force of Florence acting as a magnetic power. And yet, what we know about places comes mainly by sharing certain time and space in them. Florence is there, the person appears, but the person leaves. Florence continues. The place transforms the human and the person alters the place. Thus, José Saramago once wrote: “I do not remember having ever read about the reasons that lead us to love one city more than any other (…). I believe that the love for a city is made of tiny things, of intangible reasons, perhaps a street, a fountain, or even a shadow. In the interior of the city of us all, the small city where each of us really lives. We physically inhabit a space, but above all, sentimentally, we inhabit a memory.”…

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Florence: passion and enthusiasm

Florence: passion and enthusiasm

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All passion springs from enthusiasm. Florence rescued me from neglecting feelings, an attitude that (I do not recall exactly when) came from falling lost in Berlin. Florence meant a safe net to avoid the death of the soul and helped me arise from that terrible fall. In the Tuscan capital a revolution took place inside of me. Indeed, a Renaissance. Thus, I now live here with all naturalness, feeling calm and relaxed. In Florence the days do not seem so endless, there is always something to do, even if it’s just a walk among Renaissance treasures, only to come back home later relieved. To enjoy Florence, one must be Epicurean, aesthete and eclectic. To this city, where the vicissitudes of my destiny have brought me, I will definitely elaborate a whole dictionary of affectionate expressions, because I haven´t yet met any Italian who speaks well, and with true love, about their country.

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Berlin vs. Florence: comparison games

Berlin vs. Florence: comparison games

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As I arrived in Berlin, I remember being fascinated by its wide sidewalks, streets and avenues. I sense the opposite in Florence, where a car hardly fits in its streets and maximum two people can meet on the sidewalks. In Berlin, I might just longed for distance. Now I search for proximity. Closeness. They say that Berlin is a cosmopolitan city, but in Florence I hear everyday languages that I could never identify. Florence windows are not double-glazed. Not so isolated like those in Berlin. I get up sometimes at night to check that mine are not open …The city enters my room as if I really lived in the street. And I do not care, because I know all of these little bits, together, are called life.

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This is Georgette, our “Girl in Florence”

This is Georgette, our “Girl in Florence”

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Girl in Florence is a cheerful and friendly girl, always willing to exchange her expert opinions about the city to expats. This Texan with Mexican roots lived in Los Angeles before moving to Florence ten years ago. Georgette has more than 26,000 followers on Facebook and over 58,000 on Instagram. She is considered by the online magazine Ilreporter.it as one of the three most influential bloggers in Florence. Georgette wants to prove, further than being known as an ancient city anchored in the Renaissance, how the capital of Tuscany is full of other proposals. She absolutely loves San Frediano. Thus, is the author of a recent article featured by Lonely Planet proclaiming it the coolest neighbourhood in the world, due to its mix of old trades with trendy restaurants and bars. Georgette captures in every article the essence of the city. Her texts show knowledge and, at the same time, the surprise and the charm of those who experience things for the first time, always with an agile and dynamic style, indeed entertaining. The blog Girl in Florence is her “passion project” since 2012.

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