patti smith and happiness

florence had been calling my name for a while. 

so it was when i realized on thursday night that i would have the following friday free that i decided to go. booking my tickets at 12pm i got up at 7 the following morning, taking the train (my favourite mode of travel), arriving 39 minutes later to the morning sun in the florentine streets. 

ive always believed there is something special about the slant autumn light – the way it hits the treetops in the morning with iron-white force. the way it powders and speckles in dusky twilights, a halo shining over the landscape. 

stepping out of stazione santa maria novella i saw the city bathed in that wondrous light. 

(i will forever remember the imprint of the light of this day) 

walking without a map, as i always tend to do, i found my way down to the city center. saw the chessboard black and white duomo standing proud in the crisp light around the cafés and shops. i took a lap around the church and thought of the things those marbled walls must have witnessed; the rise and ebb of kings and epochs, but around it people were still just trying to buy and sell their goods. kingdoms were temporary; making a living was not. 

i had come to florence to sort some things out, or so i had privately planned. id always had the notion of visiting it alone for some reason. i do not know from where this fixation had arisen, just that i had set my mind on it. so walking in the calm morning hours, the jazz of charles mingus in my ears, i contemplated the sentence of the week that had occupied my mind: 

is happiness only ever real when shared?  

i had done the friend-backpacking. the co-living month in paris. now i was living with three roommates and navigating the social demands of exchange-student life. as an introvert at heart; i felt equally as bad about going home early and staying out late. 

i couldn’t decide if i was living my life wrong or not. 

hence the pervading question: 

is happiness only ever real when shared?  

here my stomach growled, and i took out google maps to find my way to one of the two reasons i had come to florence in the first place – all’antico vinaios. an infamous panini place that rode on its success all the way to a newly opened branch in nyc (or so google maps told me). i had heard rumors abut the nightmare lines in florence, so i made my way there early. 

arriving to a queue that was surprisingly manageable i waited for my sandwich. i had already decided what i would get, but the truffle-season were upon us and i found myself wavering as i perused the autumnal menu: salami, truffle cream, pecorino, and honey. but no, i remained firm in my pre-made choice and ordered the la paradiso: schiaccia, pistachio-cream, mortadella, stracciatella – topped with ground pistachio sprinkles. two minutes and ten euros later i was holding the heavy red-wrapped packet in my hand, on my way down to the river for my feast. 

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