Making footsteps in Florence, Italy

When I first arrived in Italy, I saw the three flights of stairs up to my “first floor” apartment and could already feel the exhaustion setting in. Not only that, but the walk to school was up a street, down a street, across a bridge, past some stores, and up nine, count ’em, NINE flights of stairs. Funny joke, now where’s the bus?Call me lazy, but the walk from Wing-Davis-Wilks to Central campus can get long. Especially while hauling four textbooks, three notebooks and art supplies past the fraternities and sororities on South Prospect Street. Yet at UVM, the distance was no problem. I knew the bus routes like my own reflection. Most of the drivers even knew my name.However, here I was, doomed to lug myself and my books over the river and through the tourist-crowded streets just to make it to class. Much to my surprise, however, I’ve gotten quite used to it. I still roll my eyes at those last three flights of stairs to my Italian class, but the rest I barely notice. I’ve learned to weave myself in and out of crowded streets like a pro. “Scusa” is my new favorite word, and now I only give myself 15 minutes instead of the initial 30 to get to where I’m going.Italians, in general, and especially in the center of Florence, walk everywhere. The streets are hardly big enough to fit three bikes in a row never mind a car. God forbid a bus does want to pass me in the street, I find myself smushed up against a 300-year-old building just to avoid being smacked in the face by its mirror. However, there is a lot to be enjoyed by simply walking to class. I am able to watch the gaggles of tourists as they file past in bright colors, all their cameras at the ready. Or I can listen to the accordion player at the end of my street. It makes life much slower. I find I’m never really in a rush, and never having to catch a bus means never having to waste time waiting around for one. Walking is part of the simplicity of Italy. It gives you time to stare up at the buildings, marvel at the window displays, or just enjoy life. It also doesn’t hurt that the temperature hasn’t dropped below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. So maybe, just maybe, I’ll give up on my well-known and well-trodden bus route when I return to UVM and actually walk to class. I won’t have to wait for a bus, can leave on my own time and can marvel at the greenery that I don’t see here often. That is, unless there’s rain or a blizzard. In that case, Italy, you just wouldn’t understand.