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Step Aside, David...This Florence Statue Is My Favorite

I haven't met many people who don't plan--at least a little--before traveling. Sure, we're not all future travel agents in the making with perfectly outlined itineraries, but we definitely have some ideas up our sleeves before going to a new place. When it comes to traveling to Italy, it's pretty easy to guess some of the top "bucket list" items. The Colosseum and Trevi Fountain in Rome. The Rialto Bridge and gondola rides in Venice. Capri. Cinque Terre. Pizza and gelato...anywhere. The Duomo in Milan. And...Mr. David himself in Florence.


Except...no offense to art connoisseurs, but David doesn't do it for me. Sure, it's a fantastic opportunity to admire art history and appreciate Michelangelo's excruciating attention to detail, but in the realm of art that speaks to me, moves me, and makes me think about the world in a different way, it doesn't check those boxes. But, after living in Florence for two months, I will tell you the one statue that does.


It's the Common Man on Ponte alle Grazie, by French artist Clet Abraham. According to an article in one of our local publications, The Florentine, it has been installed four times and serves as a sign of hope, energy and courage. Rightfully so--the way the statue is positioned, only one foot is anchored to a stone extension of the bridge; the other is extended out as though he is ready for his next step.


Indeed, the artist explained that “The man is taking a step into nothingness, but he’s confident and knows that he can do it. We all need to think like that.”


And, that's exactly how I've been thinking over the course of the past three years. A trip back to Milan to visit where my family lived in the late 90s in 2019 created a fissure in my universe--like my world opened in a way I hadn't anticipated. And then...I couldn't put it back together the same way.


I opened a savings account within a week of returning to the States and started putting in small amounts. I didn't have an end goal--it was more of a "dream fund" should I find a dreamy, cheap Italian property to purchase when I retire. But, then COVID happened. Like so many people, big dreams, goals, and just the basic desire to travel were put on hold to keep people safe and save lives. Then, restrictions eased.


Earlier this year, I found myself thinking about my professional development and what kinds of things I wanted to add to my repertoire. I learned that there was a language certification to prove my fluency in Italian, and then it was like the pieces started falling into place.


Now that I've surpassed the two-month mark, it's surreal to be back, enriching to speak the language on a daily basis, and (strangely) not so black and white regarding whether I want to stay permanently. That part...is going to take some time. There are a lot of days when I am reminded of why my dad kept repeating that, although Italy was great in the late 90s for us, my journey would be different. Living abroad alone, surviving off of my savings, is different than a Fortune 500 company offering him a well-paying job and a bunch of perks to do so.


But...it's coming along. And every country has its pros and cons. All I know is that there is a spark I feel here that I haven't found anywhere else.


Since I cross the Ponte alle Grazie on my way to school every day (and also on the walk back to my apartment), I can confidently call myself the Common Woman. I greet the Common Man, filled with hope, energy and courage. On a daily basis, I feel the thrill of being anchored yet free and ready to jump, just like him. I know I can do it, too. And I know that I'd recommend stepping into nothingness to anyone else looking for something different.

(Just another photo of the Ponte Vecchio from Ponte alle Grazie for the heck of it)

 


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