This morning my alarm went off before the sun came up, but then it didn’t, because the rain was pouring down again. I stepped outside and under my umbrella at 7:30 and started the first of what I hope is the first of many mornings like this – even if it’s earlier than I’d like it to be. There was a bus strike today, but I managed to wait only five minutes before jumping on to the routes that were functioning today, even if they were few and far between. Down into the center, I jumped off before the route changed and walked into an almost empty Piazza Duomo. Florence sleeps until nine. When it’s raining, make it ten. I wanted to stop and get a coffee but I was still clocking my time, figuring out what alleys would get me through the city the fastest. The clouds swirled around the Arno as I made it out just a bridge down from the Ponte Vecchio. As I crossed I had the view all to myself as the morning traffic of delivery trucks and taxis rumbled behind me.
Back down into the labyrinth of the Oltrarno. Sleepy shop owners unlocked their doors and hung up their signs outside on the street corners. The sound of coffee grinders whirred from open cafe doors every few feet down the sidewalk. I had almost made it to the piazza with ten minutes to spare, I took a detour up into the tiny little piazza that most tourists miss unless they’re looking for it (or 4 Leone – a restaurant I’d definitely recommend) and up to Ditta to get a much-needed coffee, then headed back down.
Santo Spirito was coming alive under the rain clouds as the pop-up market stalls set up their white rain tarps over antique copper pots, fruits and vegetables, flowers, and racks of clothing. I kept to the sidewalk to the end of the piazza and stopped in front of the 16th-century palace. The front door was built to welcome carriages and rose up half a story on the monstrous walls. It was built in 1502 for a silk merchant. The family kept it for 181 years. Since then this building has seemed to host everything from an art institution to the first public library in Florence. Now, the ground and first floor are home to Accent Study Abroad and my new job that I started today as a Program Coordinator.
I’ll still be writing and working on projects on the side of course, and finishing up this project next week, but everything just fell together pretty well even amid my document and tax chaos I’ve been trying to figure out over the past few months. I’m excited to get back into the heart of Florence and see a new group of students grow here. I wasn’t sure if I’d get back into working directly in international education, but I’m extremely excited to finish off my thirtieth year walking into a palace every morning again and making a direct difference in how this city functions. I’m really looking forward to that.