“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.”
“I love people. Everybody. I love them, I think, as a stamp collector loves his collection. Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me. My love’s not impersonal yet not wholly subjective either. I would like to be everyone, a cripple, a dying man, a whore, and then come back to write about my thoughts, my emotions, as that person. But I am not omniscient. I have to live my life, and it is the only one I’ll ever have. And you cannot regard your own life with objective curiosity all the time…”
Sylvia Plath in The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
“I discovered these common, self imposed restrictions are rather insidious, though they start out simple enough. We begin by worrying we aren’t good enough, smart enough or talented enough to get what we want, then we voluntarily live in this paralyzing mental framework, rather than confront our own role in this paralysis. Just the possibility of failing turns into a dutiful self-fulfilling prophecy. We begin to believe that these personal restrictions are, in fact, the fixed limitations of the world. We go on to live our lives, all the while wondering what we can change and how we can change it, and we calculate and re-calculate when we will be ready to do the thing s we want to do. And we dream. If only. If only. One day. Some day.
Every once in a while — often when we least expect it — we encounter someone more courageous, someone who chose to strive for that which (to us) seemed unrealistically unattainable, even elusive. And we marvel. We swoon. We gape. Often , we are in awe. I think we look at these people as lucky, when in fact, luck has nothing to do with it. It is really about the strength of their imagination; it is about how they constructed the possibilities for their Life. In short, unlike me, they didn’t determine what was impossible before it was even possible.
If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.”
Debbie Millman in Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design
Oh Tuscany. What more is there to say? Countless songs and movies have been inspired by this part of Italy. It was certainly a different feel than the smaller places we visited further north. There were a lot of tourists and a lot of English speaking people. Almost all of the servers in restaurants spoke English. Although it was beautiful I almost missed the quaint towns where I was forced to practice Italian. But of course the beauty of the city and architecture proved to be just like the movies.
My two favourite things about Florence: The leather market and the wine. The market is right downtown and stretches over a few streets- it can’t be missed. They have hundreds of handmade Italian bags, shoes and jackets. I bought this purse in three different colours:
Necessary. Real Italian leather and only 15 euros a bag. I could have bought a couple more- but I controlled myself. I was already 4 onesies deep by this point. We spent three nights in Florence which I felt was sufficient. It’s a bigger city but you can basically do everything you would like to in a couple of days. We waited in line for about an hour to see the Statue of David. While sweating in the lineup I nearly considered bailing and pretending like I went. However, I was glad I waited. Check out this magnificent bottom.
Worth it. Sometimes when you travel and see monuments like this you find yourself a little disappointed. They are overused in popular culture and built up to be magnificent and then they may not seem as magical in person. This didn’t prove to be true with the work of Michelangelo. The statue was much bigger than I anticipated and I found myself observing the beautiful detail of the hands and feet for a long time. Galleria dell’Accademia was the most enriching art museum I have ever visited!
Other Florence recommendations:
Il Latini- some of the best food I had in Italy. I could be biased about this because we were also given several glasses of free wine and limencello.
Visit piazza della SS Annunziata and enjoy some free jazz every night. (June-September)
Now for Cinque Terre!
The best way to do the Cinque Terre day trip is from Florence. Now, it’s not the easiest trip to be honest. It’s a good idea to book your train tickets in advance because sometimes there are long lines and it is less stress not having to worry about that. From the Florence station it is about a 3 hour train ride to La Spezia. You can choose to get off at the first or last town and hike in between. “The Five Lands” is composed of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. All of them are worth visiting and very unique. However currently the hike between Corniglia and Manarola is closed due to torrential rain.
This was probably my second favourite spot in Italy. It wasn’t too touristy and it was nice to be able to hike because that’s not something you can really do in the bigger cities. The most famous and easiest walk is Via dell’Amore. It’s only 25 minutes and is famous for it’s romantic history.