Preparing for Winter While Daydreaming of Florence

It’s been six months since I’ve returned from my two-month stint in Italy. I know that I’ve been lucky to be there as often as I have recently…three weeks last autumn and two months this past winter/spring….but the longing has returned. It has actually been quite beautiful around here of late with the autumnal leaves bursting into vibrant shades of yellows and oranges that now have mostly fallen. Our back yard is a carpet of leaves.

The realization that we are approaching another winter, which are typically long and cold in this region, is making me daydream of walking the streets of Florence…

Dreaming of Florence

I’m walking the streets of Florence breathing in the exquisite aromas of pasta and sauces of garlic and tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil. Fantasizing about biting into an overstuffed finocchiona pannini that is stacked so high I can barely wrap my mouth around it from my favorite hole-in-the-wall near Piazza della Signoria, savoring a delectable bowl of pasta fagioli at Trattoria Gozzi’s in Piazza San Lorenzo for lunch, buying cheese raviolis at the Sapori & Dintorni Store near my apartment to make for dinner along with a fantastic bottle of chianti for only 3 euros, stopping by the Paperback Exchange Bookstore and finding a bargain on a novel set in Tuscany and written in English and then reading it after my ravioli dinner, walking down streets and alleys with no particular plan and getting lost and then finding my way again but not before magically coming upon a beautiful sculpture or painting or basilica that I had maybe heard about but am now seeing for the first time. Oh, and how about drinking an Aperol spritz or a Campari spritz or treating myself to a sweet gelato on my way home. I could go on and on…

Campari Spritz
Streets of Florence
Galileo’s House

November in Pennsylvania

Alas, I am not in Florence. I am in Pennsylvania and it’s November 2nd. Days are getting shorter, subsequently there is less light, and on many days bone-chilling cold sets in. Winters are long here. Living in Seattle for 23 years spoiled me in that regard; the winters there are relatively moderate and short. And last year I cheated Pennsylvania’s long, cold winters by spending the last several weeks of it in Italy.

Pennsylvania View

With no imminent plans for visiting Florence on the horizon, I want to write about the positive things about being back here. An important thing is that I am mostly content most days. That’s something! Seriously. I’m lucky to be able to say that. Historically, contentment has been elusive. Also, I have a wonderful companion to share everyday things with as well as movies, restaurants, concerts, family events, and feelings. That is not taken for granted, for sure. There are other good things about being back here too and there are some important events coming up.

First of all, next week is Election Day and again I am helping to open ballots. I should probably be writing something important about the elections. Last week Brad and I talked about co-writing a piece about how democracy is the most important issue on the ballot. If we lose that, the rest of the issues are secondary. Living in a fascist society would threaten all the liberties we now take for granted. That may sound dramatic but after the events of January 6th, nothing feels too far fetched. I think we agreed that it’s a little late to write a piece to get in the newspapers before election day. Besides, I feel like it has all been said before and from what I’m seeing and hearing, most people have already decided how they’re going to vote. The main message now is – VOTE!

Then there are the holidays. Living in Seattle, I created my own traditions around Thanksgiving and Christmas and made it as noncommercial as possible. I didn’t buy lots of gifts. I gathered with friends for good food and wine and we also walked around the city and neighborhoods enjoying the festive lights and sparkling atmosphere. Back here there’s a bit more pressure to shop for gifts. It is fun to buy gifts for little kids…it’s so pleasing to see them get excited when they see the beautifully wrapped gifts and then to be able to watch them rip them open. My twin nieces have little kids and are each having a baby girl before the end of the year. These upcoming births are definitely gifts to be celebrated during this winter and holiday season.

In writing this, I realize that the eight weeks remaining in 2022 will most certainly go by quickly and will be filled with several important events, some very festive and fun. Also, there’s the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, on December 21st and from there we can start noticing the days inching longer. I may need to regroup in the new year and write about how to get through the following several months when it feels like winter should be about over…but it’s not.

How to keep daydreams of Florence alive

I feel like even though I’m not in Italy, I have more of it in my life everyday than maybe I realized. I have a Zucchero station on Pandora and listen to it every day. I watch movies and series set in Italy whenever I can. I continue to work on learning the language. I read books about and set in Italy. I reread my magazines of Italy. And I make lots of the foods of Italy. I will continue to do all of these things and maybe I’ll reread a few books…

Books set in Italy

Here’s a list of books I read when I was in Florence earlier this year:

  • The Widower by Christobel Kent
  • The Peacock Room by Merryn Corcoran
  • Murder in Chianti by Camilla Trinchieri
  • Italian Fever by Valerie Martin
  • A Death in Tuscany by Michele Giuttari
  • The Death of A Mafia Don by Michele Giuttari
  • Still Life by Sarah Winman
  • Piazza Carousel by Jule Selbo

Here are a few I’ve read since I’m back:

  • One Italian Summer by Rebecca Searle
  • The Pope’s Daughter by Dario Fo
  • The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken by Laura Schennone

I sure would love to hear if you know of any I haven’t listed that you’d recommend. I’d also love to know of fun things you do or any tips you have for enjoying the winter months.


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