image Well, here I am again for the third birthday in a row. If there is a reason for which I wish to live to be one hundred years old, it would be so that I could say that I have spent the last fifty birthdays of my life here in Florence.

Something is very different this year though. There are some personal reasons why there is an extra sentiment and appreciation of this trip versus the past two journeys here. That explains some of the strange feeling. And then there is the fact that I know I am going to be here for over five weeks this time. But there is more to it.  The feeling is one of complete familiarity. I have been studying Italian for the past few months and I love the language. As I visit my favorite neighborhood spots again this first night  (just a few as I am only trying to stay up as late as possible to kick jet lag in the ass), I find myself tuning into every word and picking out one in about a hundred, thereby allowing me to give myself a proverbial pat on the back for each word that I pick up.

However, the familiarity began to be felt before I arrived today.  It began a few months ago when this trip began to loom closer on the horizon. I was just going to be here –no anxiety, no real excitement either.  Just a strange sense of “Alright, I am going. I have to be there-no question about it.”

I landed here once again this afternoon.  For the first time ever I was able to greet my cab driver and ask him politely to take me to the address of my apartment in Italian. There was an elderly Ametican couple behind me in the cabbie line.  We had talked a bit on the shuttle ride from the plane to baggage claim. They knew no Italian, however they witnessed my cabbie greeting and conversation and said to me “nice job”! That was my first pat on my back from myself on the language thing today!

As I said, I went to a couple of my local places here this evening. No map needed. Very strange. I just know where I am when I am here in a way that I cannot truly explain. I saw some of my Italian friends at my favorite wine bar and then met up with some American friends who I met here last year. My American friend comes here to study art and has begun to introduce me to the local art history scene that he knows. He is currently working on reproducing Leonardo d Vinci’s “Leda and the Swan”

Leda-and-the-Swan-1505-10

This sexy and controversial painting has been lost or destroyed since about 1625 after being painted by Da Vinci in the early years of the 16th century. It had, however, been reproduced before it’s demise.

My friend did not understand why I would write this blog and who would care. I said “Who cares that you are copying “Leda and the Swan”? He paused and then laughed heartily at that. It was a fun first night and I am exhausted!

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