24 December 2009

La Vigilia di Natale (Christmas Eve)

Most people who spend more than a little time in Florence know it is very difficult to make true friendships with the Fiorentini ("Florentines"). It can be lonely and isolating for those of us who want to integrate.  Not only do people from faraway lands experience this but also other Italians who are not 100% Florentine. There are several reasons this is true; however, it does not take away from the fact that I love Florence and the Florentines. And not only that, I tend to be a persistent person. With time, I am pretty confident I will break through that centuries-old, fortified Florentine barrier.

Meanwhile, I have been living here about one week shy of three months. In that time I have gotten to know many of my local shopkeepers and vendors and artisans.

It is Christmas Eve. The stores are busy with people buying the last few gifts and food for the big feasts that will commence tonight and continue the next couple days. People are full of joy and in the spirit of the season. The holiday stress we experience in the States also exists here, but the Fiorentini handle it differently. I have witnessed the folks in the streets, in the piazzas, in the stores, and I see how genuinely happy people are, as they wish each other happy holidays and exchange kisses. Many pop their heads inside a store only for the purpose of expressing happy holidays and a kiss on each check.

I may not yet be Fiorentina, but I, too, have experienced some of those genuine wishes and kisses, and it makes me feel almost accepted as "one of them."

P.S. I still feel this is where I belong.

Tanti Auguri di Buone Feste!

Click on the photo of the Christmas tree to see which Italian Christmas ornaments were used to decorate.

-- Josslyn 'Giosalina'
Florence, Italy

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