Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Florence roared to life at the beginning of September, the August vacations having ended. The viali swarmed anew with slaloming mopeds, cars choked the lanes, horns blaring in that impatient Italian way, and orange buses flung themselves down the narrow streets of the centro storico like marauding Greeks storming Troy. After the eerie--yet delicious--quiet of the ghost town Florence becomes in August, the change was jarring. This great Italian collective roar is what heralds the rientro--the return, the re-entering, the restarting of "real" life after the hedonistic lazy days of August, wherein it is too hot to even think of working or accomplishing anything. In fact, if you are so unfortunate as to be left in the city during this month (it feels like being one of the few survivors on a barren Earth after a nuclear holocaust, alla Twilight Zone), you find that you can't get anything done: forget yoga, forget doctor's appointments, forget applying for a mortgage, and pray you have enough food to last until September.
I have always preferred Autumn to the other seasons, and even as a kid suffered through summers that always seemed unbearably long. September has always meant new life and a new beginning to me, primarily because of school (which I loved). So the characteristically dramatic way Italians have of welcoming (or begrudging, depending how you look at it) September rather appeals to me. All the news programs talk about the rientro, as if it were some amazingly noteworthy cultural phenomenon (well, perhaps, it is). Now is the time to get down to business, buy school supplies, see what "serious" books have come out (not that Italians like to read serious books), check the theatre schedules, sign up for judo. Suddenly the phone is ringing with mothers wanting play dates with my kids, all the shops are open, a government office concluded a matter with me suspended since July, my yoga studio is open. Even the miserable humidity and cannibalistic mosquitoes have abated, high-tailing it out of here on the hind legs of summer.
I have, then, in the spirit of the rientro, begun these letters to you, dear Readers.
My best regards,