Friday, May 20, 2016

#10: read a classic novel & visit where it takes place

I like to read. But, if I'm being honest, I haven't read many of the "classics." So, for #10, I set out to do just that, and tie it into my travels (naturally).

Choosing my classic of choice wasn't as easy as one would think. Sure, there's loads of 'em out there. Fancy language and authors with two initials in lieu of a first name abounds in the literary world.

My classic needed to take place in one of the destinations I had planned on visiting during my trip. Which, were numerous, but even so, I yearned to make a grand match between book and place. And, perhaps most crucial, the book itself couldn't be too large seeing as I had limited (if any) luggage space available.

I’ll go ahead and acknowledge that I didn’t fully think this one through before diving in. During the LCP (list creation process), I think my thought process was that it sounded good. Reading a classic and visiting where it took place seemed to balance the list out. Because, let's be real, most of the list items were wildly different from this relatively low key one. So, what did I really want out of this one? 
I. Did. Not. Know.

That being said, I didn’t truly evaluate what inspired me to come up with this, or why I felt emphatic enough about it to actually include it. But, there had to be something. With so many list items (33 is in fact, a TON for a year), I didn’t have time to devote the attention I felt I should to each and every individual item during the LCP. So, I slapped it in there and hoped I'd figure it out when the time came.

That sounds bad. 

I mean, I considered them all, trust me, I did, but this one; this one was subconsciously motivating me to include it. Maybe I'd figure out why, maybe I wouldn't.   

I chose a novel set in Florence. Florence is deliciously darling, of course. But what of it to make me choose a story set there instead of the other various cities & countries I’d be visiting? 
Paris? Rome? Greece? Vietnam? Belgium?
All viable options. But no, something about Florence draws me in. 

Every. Damn. Time.

"One does not come to Italy for the niceness, one comes 

for life!”-Room With A View, E.M. Forster

Ahhh the romance. Florence is the epitome of a romantic city. Call it beer goggles, rose tinted glasses, or whatever you want.. it's an ever-present affair of the heart.

Is it despite what I had endured with love and heartbreak that I thought placing myself in a city like Florence, that romance would somehow rub off on me? Make me believe again? Because love is a feeling, isn’t it. One that we all want, even if we tell ourselves that we do not. Ever again.

Maybe a moment of sunshine on my face, breathing the Tuscan air and strolling the ancient streets would spark something inside of me, making me believe it’s possible again. Maybe.

All it takes is that tiny seed of hope. And when you see something beautiful it makes you feel all the hopeful feelings, even just for a fleeting moment. So, perhaps I was looking for a fleeting seed of hope, or a brush of romance from the cobblestone streets. And if all else failed, there’d be gelato. That, was an undeniably everlasting love affair that would never fade. I could be sure of that, at least.

The book? 

Well it’s a  l o v e  story, duh. I grew up as a self proclaimed cloud dweller, quite often thinking life would play out like a book or a movie. Preferably one with a happy ending, and definitely not a psychological thriller. Head out of the clouds, I'm still clearly drawn to those types of stories.

So, Room With A View by E.M. Forster it was. And look at that- two initials for a first name...Check!

I was visiting Florence with a small gang in tow this time, and I worried about showing them around whilst fitting in trying to visit the places in the book; some of which wouldn't be easy to get to. I was scouring Google maps, I was plotting where each location in the book was, and during the peak stress moment is when it hit me. 

I was worrying about seeing all the places the main character, Lucy saw. Being true to the novel. Reenacting her steps and seeing the city for the first time through the character's eyes. But, that was wrong. 

"You're doing it all wrong, Lauren." I scolded myself.

“Let yourself go. Pull out from the depths those thoughts that you do not understand, and spread them out in the sunlight and know the meaning of them." -Room With A View, E.M. Forster

What I needed to do was experience Florence the way that Lucy did. With wonder, open eyes, and heart. I didn't purposefully need to retrace steps. I needed to forge my own way and allow myself to indulge in the details, feelings, and scenes that the city holds just as close as it is willing to share. 

Room With a View dared me to find love. So, that's just what I did. I set out to find love in the deviously romantic city of Florence, Italy. Challenge accepted.

And this is what I found:

I found love in history... 

sure, it was an iconic scene that I had viewed more than a handful of times. But, this time when I absorbed the Ponte Vecchio, I let the sweeping sun touch my cheeks as it reached into the Arno river and the tippy tops of the ancient bridge.

I found love after dark...

Piazza della Repubblica comes alive at night, filling the square with the light of a thousand reminiscent smiles in the form of a carousel. I allowed it to bring me back.

I found love in the middle of a huge tourist attraction...

despite my disdain for crowded tourist spots, I went for it anyways and the elbows of pushy tourists melted into the background when the sky became enchanted at sunset. There's a reason people flock to Piazzale de Michelangelo for the view.

I found love in food...

specifically in pizza. In a sandwich. And, in gelato, 
a f t e r   g e l a t o...
If salami was to be my constant lover.. well then so be it.

I found love in a holy place...

sort of like Rihanna, but not. This place? It was actually in Room With A View. The Basilica of Santa Croce was one I hadn't seen with my own eyes yet, and I was grateful that my overdue visit was Lucy inspired. Impressive. Elegant. Radiant.

...and I jumped in front of a naked statue. So, there was that.

**Read a classic novel and visit where it takes place? CHECK! Rediscover Florence and my faith in Salami? CHECK, CHECK!

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