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The first few days were ones of wandering and getting irreparably lost. Florence is full of streets that in the exact moment you stop paying very close attention, appear to blend together creating a maze of stone and statues, keeping you safe, but also preventing you from your destination using agonizing cobblestone and winding alleys. The streets prove difficult to navigate by even the eldest members of the city. Beautiful, but tricky. Soaking it in and not worrying about getting lost, I assumed I would eventually find my way. (But I also had CityMaps2Go, just in case reality hit.)
We took a tour led by a local, and on it we were introduced to the main Piazzas. She attempted to give us a layout of the city, but trust me, no extensive tour could have saved us from getting lost. On this tour I made a new friend, someone who would become one of my dearest, James Torrez. Our friendship blossomed as we both stood at the wild boar fountain (Porcellino as the Italians dub him) outside of the Mercato Nuovo. The history behind the wild boar dictates if you rub his snout it surely will bring you good luck, and when a coin is placed in his mouth and falls into the grate below him, you will be sure to return to Florence one day. James and I both decided to try our luck out at the boar fountain, and in the hectic process of taking pictures, laughing about the history, and dodging the gypsies crowding the fountain, we became friends. I managed to pat the boar and get the coin into the grate on the first try as did James, and amidst some confusion we think our tour guide told us that as legend we would both return to Florence with our love and be married. Which as odd as it seems, I can’t really complain about a destination wedding.
The rest of the evening consisted of all 110 University of Florida students and professors going to a four course dinner provided for us. Let me say there was an open wine tab, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to fit into any pair of jeans previously owned after this trip was over. Full of carbs and lightheaded from the wine, we giggled through dinner and in that moment I understood for the first time where I was. You know the instant when you realize you love someone for all their flaws, yet their flaws aren’t flaws they are just beautiful as they are, and their face instantly becomes irresistibly perfect to you? That moment washed over me and I was drunk with love for Florence.
In a few short days she became my first true love, and I couldn’t quite figure out how to handle it yet.
I was longing for more.