A quiet realization

I know you’re all anxious for an update on my secret identity – and I promise I’ll get to that soon – but the prelude to that update is actually my recent trip to Italy.

I know, I know—after having just written about how this fall is jam-packed with visitors, how did I have time to go to Italy? The answer is that I suppose I didn’t really, but Colin and I realized we’d be sad to live in Europe for a year and not make it to the land of leather jackets and fresh pasta, so we picked one of our few remaining free weekends and made it happen. Five days after my dad left and one week before one of my best friends arrives, we hopped on a plane to Florence.

I had been to Florence once before (in 2002 maybe?), but my memories were scarce. To be honest, though, Colin and I didn’t feel the need to plan much, since all we really wanted was to admire old architecture, tour the Duomo, and stuff ourselves with pizza, pasta, and prosecco.

We accomplished all of that just fine, even though it rained most of the day Monday, which happened to be the day we’d booked tickets for the Duomo. The thunder echoing through the stone tower made the climb extra dramatic, as did the precariousness of standing atop a stone dome with an umbrella in one hand and a camera in the other. Luckily we worked up quite an appetite with our trembling knees, so we spent the rest of the day eating our body weights in gelato and pasta.

By the end of our three days in Florence, though, we were really ready to come home. In all the traveling I’ve done this year, I’ve realized something: Paris is truly special. There’s nowhere I’d rather be. The architecture in Florence is beautiful, but the streets are narrow and dark. And the city is noisy! Florentine stonework amplifies everything. Parisians may not do pasta as well as the Italians, but they do have an impressive talent for urban planning.

And for quietness. When Colin and I returned on Tuesday, we got off the train from the airport at Châtelet, one of the busiest – and largest, at nearly half a mile – metro stations in Paris. It was almost six pm, so we were smack dab in the middle of rush hour. And yet, the quiet was striking. Quietness is a superpower of the French.

I was so happy to be home that I was tempted to – what’s the expression? – shout from the rooftops “Paris, je t’aime!” except I knew that Paris would hear me just fine if I murmured instead.

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The Ponte Vecchio

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The Duomo on a sunny day

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Umbrella-shrouded view from the top of the Duomo

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View from the Duomo bell tower

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