Italy, part 1

Tuscany

It has been a while between written posts for this space; continuing to share my obsession with street art and quotes is rather simple, and I must confess I have been too caught up in Tuscany to bother with anything more involved. Now, however, things are changing. Here’s what I’ve been up to…

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Florence:

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I explored Florence en route to a work exchange I organised in southern Tuscany (more on this later). When my passion for literature began to evolve, my mum suggested I read E M Forester’s 19th Century novel A Room with a View, which is set in this small Tuscan city. Ever since, I have wanted to visit Florence; I associated the city with empowerment, transition, and the disillusionment with perfection embodied in the text.

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Though there wasn’t enough time (there hardly ever is), I was blown away by what I saw. More than the city itself, which is lovely, I was awestruck by the simple realisation that I was in the homeland of some of history’s great minds. Strolling down quaint cobbled alleys, which ended in piazzas dominated by larger-than-life marble monuments to artists from ages past, certainly gave me my daily dose of wonder, gratitude, and happiness.

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Castel del Piano:

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Curiously diverse and yet quintessentially Italian, the rural Tuscan town of Castel del Piano became my home for a few short weeks this September. I stayed with an English expat family in a placement through workaway.com. Similar to WWOOF, Workaway offers a veritable ocean of opportunities for volunteering abroad, and if you are interested in such work you should check it out.

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My favourite part of the arrangement is the immersion it offers into local life. Castel del Piano is an out-of-the-way rural metropolis, home people from Italy and a small community of expats from around the world, yet not many tourists. This gave me unobstructed access to traditional Italian life and culture. From smiling and nodding dumbly to the enthusiastic Italian chatter of a local woman inviting me stop by her fabric shop to speak English with her (even though she didn’t speak English), to witnessing the festivities of the Palio, a traditional horse race between the four quarters of Castel del Piano, my stay in this town was perfect.

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