We arrived to Florence by train. It was already hot, humid and crowded, but this did not detour my MN Teenage Daughter and me from combing every cobble stone street, piazza, bridge, gelateria and cafe.
Walking from the train station became a trip down Memory Lane….I pointed in the direction of where I had lived one summer as a student. MN Teens first question, “Was it a nice apartment?” Truthfully it was a stark, old four bedroom apartment that I shared with seven other young women. It did not have a single aesthetically pleasing quality, but it was wonderful as it was my Italian home that summer. I shared more with MN Teen – astonished how vivid the memories – not quite able to account for how so many years had passed?
She asked if I kept in touch with my friends from that summer. Truthfully, before the Internet, Facebook, Instagram, correspondence was either expensive long distance phone calls or very slow snail mail. Staying in contact was challenging. I regretted that I had not stayed connected with my friends. In 2012, friends from across the world instantly visit each other by the push of a button.
Heck, in order to call my mother that summer, I stood in line at the beautiful old Postal-Communication Building with all the other students and backpackers; paid Italian Lire by the minute and hoped that someone was home to answer my call. We sent decorative postcards back home – no texts and no iPhone photos. We experienced Florence authentically without a Smart Phone thus we were not constantly stopping along our way to check e-mails, Facebook or to send Instagrams. We observed cobble stone roads, stain glass windows, sculptures and and people with our eyes and our 35 millimeter camera!
We stopped at Rivoire Cafe in Piazza della Signorina for salads. I remembered as a student entering this cafe with a friend to buy gummy fish, but admiring the fancy cakes and pastries that did not fit into my student budget. When I told MN Teen that I could not afford this type of cafe -as a student we were given vouchers to eat at smaller cafes and family run trattorias – she looked alarmed. I proudly described the delicious and authentic food we had eaten as if it were just yesterday.
For 4 hours, my mind frenetically hopped between 1984 to 2012: I cherished my Florence summer and I loved exploring the same city with MN Teen.
I hope that one day she too will travel in a foreign city unconnected to a Smart Phone; absorb the local language and culture; sleep in a simple apartment or pension; eat meals at local trattorias; and take pleasure in the experience and not just Twitter it to the rest of the world.
By 4:30pm we were back at the train station standing in line with backpackers to get our bags from the storage facility. While waiting in the hot and dirty train station, I smiled as for a brief moment – it was 1984.
Fourth Entry in the Summer Travel Series.