By Elena Eberwein, FFE 2012-13
Today I realized how much this city truly means to me. I woke up early on a Tuesday for the first time in months. Since it’s my last Tuesday here for a while I knew I had to do it. Every Tuesday morning there is a giant market in the Cascine park down the river a few bridges. I got myself ready, bundled up, and headed out into a sunny brisk Florentine morning.
I navigated my way to the Ponte Vecchio, always a good starting point if you’re trying to get somewhere with directions involving the river. To get to the Cascine, I’d been told to just follow the Arno a few bridges until I got to a park. Somehow I managed to be walking behind a swift paced woman with the same destination as mine. I lucked out, because it was a bit more hidden than I’d thought.
After about a 30 minute walk, an encounter with an elderly Italian gentlemen who asked me if I wanted to dance, and a few Instagram picture-taking stops, I made it. And I was in my version of heaven.
Everywhere I looked were kiosks and stands laden with articles of clothing, cosmetics, accessories, plants, foods, wines, kitchen supplies, bedding, blankets, leather goods, Christmas decorations, the list goes on and on. My eye was immediately attracted to the signs for wildly low prices. I had the mission to finish my Christmas shopping, but that mission was diminished as soon as I began to find things for myself for prices so low I still don’t feel too guilty.
In the process of bargain-hunting and being overwhelmed by the activity around me, I managed to find 3 shirts, a skirt, a hat, and a wool sweater. In total I spent all of 24 euro. Even at H&M, the only name brand college budget friendly store in the city, you’d be lucky to buy one of those things for less than that.
I could have kept shopping all day, but I gave myself a time limit so I could get to work on time. On my walk back I suddenly felt a sweeping overwhelming feeling. The sun was out as I walked along the sparkling Arno and it hit me that in a week I won’t be in this beautiful place. I am so grateful that I get to come back for spring semester, because there is so much left to discover in this city. Why it had taken me until my last week of the semester to find this incredible market, I’m not sure. But I am so happy that I’m finding places like these, because it makes me feel like that much more of an insider.
I was so overwhelmed in that moment, I decided to make a video of my walk, just so maybe I can show other people what I’ve seen. I must have looked like a complete crazy walking down the street talking to myself, but without even consciously knowing it I told my imaginary audience, “This is my city, this is my home”. And that is truly what it has become. Sure I’m going home for 6 weeks, but in 6 weeks I’ll be going home again.