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“Giulio, today we get to have special pane bread,” I said to the little almost-three-year-old as we walked out of the school/museum. The French market has popped up again in Piazza Annunziata – complete with a new raclette stand which I will absolutely be trying soon. But for the first day, there were pretzels.

Giulio says he doesn’t want special bread, he wants good bread. I assure him it’s also good as well as special and led him over to the stand to choose one for himself (don’t worry, he ate like two bites).

Minutes later we were back up under the portico of the school waiting out a surprise April downpour. Umbrellas popped up between the wooden rooftops of the market like multicolored mushrooms and people scattered up the steps to join us in the shelter. Giulio wanted to go jump in the puddles but didn’t have his rainboots. So we sat and ate pretzels and watched the rain until it petered out, and then we walked back to the most gorgeous view just before turning into the house – an almost empty park.

The afternoon crowds had drowned in the rainstorm, and dampness is not ok in any form here – so most were already in for the evening – and with a quick wipe-down of the slides with my scarf, Giulio had the place (and one of the two swings!) to himself.

Eventually, there were a few others that ventured out after the storm. One boy tore into the playground aiming a nerf gun sniper-style at the surrounding trees. Not a shy bone in his body, he hollered over to Giulio and me on the swings like we had been with him all day.

“Look how far I can make it go this time! Did you see the last? It’s really hard to load it but I can still do it! Watch!” His father sat on the bench to the side of the park I smiled at him and then turned back to his son and dared him to shoot it further past the elephant ride.

For some reason, we got in a conversation about the weather and I answered one of his questions with a “Well it’s hot out today,” which was the wrong answer with this little Italian.

“It’s cold though!” he replied, confused, standing in his puffy jacket and probably five layers underneath. Giulio currently had on four. I had to explain to him I’m from the United States where it’s colder and there’s lots of snow. So for me, it’s warm now (for the record, it was 73F outside).

“But you’re from here, you’re Florentine, right, so yes this is cold here compared to summer.”

“Yes! I’m Florentine and so is my Dad!” He gushed as he bounced in place and pointed back at his father. “He goes to the stadium all the time and I want to go but Mom says that I have to wait until I’m fourteen!” He looks at me awaiting my obvious horror to this age restraint. He tells me he’s only eight which means six more years!

His Dad smiled and shook his head from the bench. I sympathized with the boy, but also the Mom – the true Fiorentina fans get rowdy. It’d be like bringing an 8-year-old to the Fenway bleachers during a weekend night game – or throwing them in the center of the student section at a college hockey game. But not being able to go see the game that your family loves? I don’t know about that. I couldn’t imagine waiting until I was a teenager to see Fenway or the Garden. Feeling that excitement. That’s just as magical as Disney when you’re young. But things are different, it’s true. For now, the little boy at the park will have to wait to learn the chants of the tifosi (fans) and see the flares light up the stands.

In the meantime, there are other magic things like empty parks after a rainstorm.

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