Two of my daughters arrive this evening for a visit. The oldest will be apart from her husband for the first time since they were married, and my youngest is embarking on a trek through, Italy, Greece, Germany and Spain….after our 10 day Family Reunion here in Tuscany that is. Elation fills my heart at the thought of wrapping my arms around my girls, and as an added bonus, introducing them to my beloved Florence. All three of my children have supported my decision to move here, allowing me the flexibility to follow my dreams, free of the futile, and often absorbing… mothers-guilt. (yes, I know my children are all adults, however…. mothers-guilt/worry/responsibility, does not miraculously vanish when they turn 18… dagnabbit!!)
In anticipation of their arrival, I’ve stocked the fridge, arranged flowers throughout the apartment, outlined a flexible itinerary of locations to visit, cuisine to savour, and experiences for the three of us to share. As for tonight, after 18 hours of gruelling intercontinental travel, I’ll offer them two choices for dinner; sparkling Prosecco, accompanied by a light Caprese salad, consisting of fresh buffalo mozzarella, vine ripened tomatoes, basil and olive oil,
OR, if they’re famished, a full-bodied vino, with hand-made (not by me) mouthwatering Ravioli topped with pesto, pane (bread) drizzled in olive oil, and a sampling of dark chocolate for desert. After dinner, if they are up for it, a stroll along the river to stretch their legs before bed.
Any self-respecting Family Reunion in Tuscany wouldn’t be complete without trips to Siena, Venice and possibly Rome. As for meeting my newfound Italian Family, my friend Monica, has arranged an afternoon get together on Saturday. Federica, my original landlady, is throwing a ‘Welcome to Italy’ dinner Wednesday evening, at the residence I lived at, when I first arrived in Italy, Residenza del Palmerino. If that were not enough, friends from Siena will join us next Sunday, with their two young children, for brunch in the centre of Florence. My heart is full !!
With everything in order in my apartment, I strike-out for the station. As if on cue, the twinkling lights of Florence flood the evening sky, sparkling just in time to greet my daughters. In typical mother fashion, I arrive a-vee-bit early, and of course their train is a-vee-bit late. I anxiously, sit then pace ~ sit then pace, for 73 minutes… up and down the Stations crowded walkways….
If you enjoy people watching, a busy train-statin in Europe, is the place to be. Like ants in an overturned ant-hill, life, and motion erupt within this bustling transportation hub. Normally, one or two trains arrive at once, tonight however, five trains from across Italy and Europe, arrive simultaneously. The vibration originates beneath your feet, then encompasses your body at its core. The sight, sound, and aroma, of five trains rumbling forward almost in unison, fill the cavernous building. The emerging metal structures displace the still air with their heavy, humid exhalation. The rugged scent of steel, oil, and diesel fuel, mix with the thunderous energy enveloping the previously deserted tracks. Within seconds, the platform swarms with unrestrained passengers. Locals, at the end of their work day, intent on making it home for dinner. Disoriented tourists struggling to hoist overpacked bags, down steep, uneven trains steps. Backpackers, slinging life-sized knapsacks across tired shoulders. The merging sounds of wheels from, suitcases, strollers, carts, wheel-chairs, and bicycles, ADD to what could only be described as orchestrated mayhem. A jumble of diverse languages echo off the tiled walls, ceilings, and floors of this energetic building. As my eyes scan the mass of people….. I suddenly spot my two beautiful daughters standing at the end of platform #1.
An excited squeal escapes my lips, as I bolt towards them….. Our Italian Family Reunion begins !!