ode to florence and a meme


I was asked to write something about the Florence trip that i was on over a year ago. I am at a loss as to how much to write, what to write about, etc. This is what i have so far. Please provide any feedback you might wish to share as this is most likely going to be published and i would prefer not making a total ass of myself.

At the risk of sounding horribly kitsch, I would like to assert that one of the best, perhaps the greatest, element of attending the Liberal Arts College, is the sense of community fostered by students, staff and faculty. I wasn’t a firm believer in any of this “gung-ho” group activity/student life mantra until May of 2005 when the professors Krantz (or Fred and Lenore as we were permitted to call them on the trip) escorted a small group to Italy for a three-week tour of Tuscany and Venice.

How can one highlight a voyage that brought us to countless masterpieces, churches, squares and vineyards? Over a year later, the three weeks have become a blur and only when I encounter a copy of some work or a reference to a place in a novel am I really able to relish a specific memory with its lighting, smell and sounds. The blurry nature of my more mundane reminiscing attests not to a slip-shod job on the part of our hosts (led by two historians it is unlikely many opportunities to experience “culture” were permitted to pass us by), but rather the thickness of this tapestry of recollection. I can rarely follow one thread through from start to finish.

Whenever I sit in the sun, I bitter-sweetly wish to be back in the garden of our pensione where those of us strapped for cash (all the undergrads on the trip, surprise surprise) would pool together our meager fare of veggies, garlic, lemon juice, cold cuts, fresh bread and fruit to consume a sumptuous feast. Without access to a refrigerator, red wine was the poison of choice – and we drank to our health until our teeth and lips turned blue. We also argued about philosophy and politics and shared favourite books, movies and anecdotes; these are the conversations typical of any close-knit group of friends – except we weren’t friends – or hadn’t been until we embarked. Rehashing the day’s events, making plans for the days to come and sharing them with others, I felt like a character from a Hollywood depiction of a varsity sports team – I felt I belonged and relished it. I’d never even wanted to belong before.

So, at the risk of sounding even more kitsch, those weeks spent in Florence were the best time of my life. More than just the sense of awe, smallness, inspiration and enthusiasm inspired but such greats as Alberti, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Ghirlandao, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Torrentino and Vasari, I move forward with a new-found belief – that community isn’t just a platitude, but rather a description of home distinct from any physical place.

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