A long night in Florence

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As the air chilled our skin, my mother, father and I trudged through the dark streets of Florence on a cold, damp December night, craving the warmth of our apartment. It was a weird ending to a wonderful night, and the memories of what unfolded before me just minutes before danced through my head as I walked between my mom and dad. 

When I started fifth grade, my grandparents moved to Italy for a year. My family decided to take a trip to Italy to see them over Christmas break. Just like that, I was strutting out of elementary school to fly to a continent I had never seen before. The lengthy 8-hour journey to London wasn’t too bad, and all too soon, it was time to fly to the beautiful city of Florence, Italy.

We were to spend two weeks in the freezing city where both my birthday and our family Christmas would occur. I woke up on the morning of Dec. 22th and realized I had turned 11! I walked upstairs, and my grandparents surprised me with tickets for a soccer match! I was absolutely ecstatic. I had never been to a soccer match outside of America, and to watch a game in one of the mainstream countries for the sport excited.

The local side, Fiorentina, would be playing a renowned Italian power, Napoli, who finished third in the Italian league, and made it to the round of 16 in the European tournament that season. It was a game that Fiorentina, a struggling club who had lost their last two games, was not expected to win or even scrape a draw. Nonetheless, I was super excited to attend the game with my parents, my sister, and my grandparents, and I was going to be rooting hard for Fiorentina to pull off the upset.

The experience was extraordinary, yet super odd. The fans smoked freely, which isn’t allowed in most sporting events or even public places in America. It also couldn’t have been more than 40 degrees outside, so we bundled up under as many layers as we could wear. Thirdly, they sold espresso shots inside of the stadium, and that seemed to be the main option for drinks. These little disposable espresso cups ended up littered everywhere, creating a layer of cups on the floor, which was absolutely hilarious to see and made me hope the janitors were being paid enough. The match ended in a thrilling three-to-three draw that featured spectacular goals, curses, chants and plenty of emotions from fans. I was ready to go home and relive the game in my head before falling into a dream filled with espresso shots and smoke.

Getting a taxi in Italy is impossible. I think the official motto should be, “Forget the cab, let’s just walk.” We stood in the cold waiting for a taxi for at least twenty minutes before finally hailing a taxi that was too small to fit the whole group, but we chose my grandparents and my little sister to be the ones to get a warm, easy ride home. After 15 more minutes of hopelessly looking for a cab to take us home for the night, my parents made the executive decision to walk home. I was tired and not stoked about walking, but I also wanted to get home. My parents seemed confident we could walk the three mile distance before we could hail a taxi.

Then here I was, walking through the streets of Florence with my mom and dad, reliving the night and counting down the minutes until my birthday was over. After an hour of crossing train tracks, alleyways and crosswalks, and relying on google maps to get us home, we arrived at the apartment roughly an hour later at around 12:30 a.m. It was freezing. I was cold enough after the match but an hour-and-a-half more of being in forty degree weather was not fun.

It was a surreal experience getting back from that stadium; nonetheless, it’s fun for my parents and me to look back on it and laugh at the oddity of that situation. Remembering that night today, I realized that I honestly preferred walking home because of the awesome memory that came of it. That evening, and the entire trip is something I’ll always treasure, and I’ll always remember when I was walking through the heart of Florence.