I use my two visit to Florence, Italy as a reminder of just how different two visits to a place or a person can be. Here is my post from five years ago about two visits to Florence, Italy, 24 years apart.
Visiting two Florences
I visited Firenza, the city in Italy we call "Florence" twice, first in 1974 and then again in 1998. Both visits were only for a few days but together, they make a great mental reminder of the individuality of life's experiences.
The first trip was my first visit to an old city anywhere. It was extremely crowded on the main sidewalks and I had to shorten my steps to avoid the feet in front of me. We stayed in a little rental up what I would have called an alleyway. It seemed romantic. I had bought a gorgeous loaf of bread in a stop in Assisi, but learned that bread made with no salt was not very tasty. Up the alley from our lodging was a bakery and I felt so clever finding a way to ask if the loaf I wanted there had salt in it. We were right around the corner from the Duomo, the cathedral church of Florence and I liked the striped building. The famous Ponte Vecchio ("old bridge") is very colorful, a clearly old bridge with shops all along it. [It is famous enough that 'ponte' into Google suggests Ponte Vecchio immediately.]
Twenty-four years later, guess what? I was 24 years older! I had been in my early 30's the first visit so of course, I had changed. But the events, the scenes, the impressions were also quite different, different enough that in many ways it seemed like a different city. For one thing, we came in quite late at night, using a different route and stayed at lodgings that were very different.. Coming into a busy city that is unfamiliar in the dark is no picnic. We got a little lost and even managed to get our tour bus more or less stuck in an ancient and tiny street until we stood outside the giant bus and guided the driver in the dim light. The next morning, we got a chance to see the enormous villa in which we were housed. The entry hall itself seemed as big as an American high school gym. It was out in the suburbs with an orchard beside it and had great views of the area.
If we hadn't seen the same cathedral and the same old bridge without leaving the city, I would not be sure that it was even the same city. It wasn't the same me and it wasn't the same set of experiences. That old Greek said you can't step into the same (totally unchanged) river twice and we found we can't visit the same place twice.