Florence: Mercato Centrale, a Mirror of New York

Grace Halio, Abroad Editor

The first half of this photoset features a select few stalls at Mercato Centrale in Florence that remind me of New York — the Union Square Greenmarket, little cheese shops, corner bodegas on the Lower East Side and my grandparents’ butcher shop on 18th Ave. in Bensonhurst.

I have spent the latter half of this semester lying to myself in an effort to believe that I am not homesick. I saw a deli counter full of cheese and cured meat and it sparked memories of my grandparents, of growing up in an Italian-American family, of the people that I can’t wait to go home to. Simply put, food made me feel emotions. I miss my family, my friends, the comfort of my kitchen — but I refuse to label these feelings. My stubbornness is due in part to the fact that I don’t want to waste my time in Florence wishing that I was in New York, where I’ve lived for the past 19 years.

And truth be told, I have fallen in love with Florence. With its food, of course, but also its language, people, the screenless window of my apartment that overlooks a narrow street, which is perfect for people watching and countless other things. I refuse to let grocery shopping and nostalgia stand in the way of me making the most of my last few weeks here.

I am fortunate enough to have a friend in New York who has has helped me sort through my muddled emotions. He was kind enough to take the photos in the second half of the set. They are of some of the places that mirror those in Mercato Centrale. I never imagined that I could actually miss grimy city bodegas and hot dog stands — but I’ve learned that sometimes you have to be away from places and people to appreciate them and the little things that make them so great.

Over the past few weeks, it has been difficult to articulate how I feel about my experience abroad. Florence finally feels like home, but at the same time, home has never felt so far away.

Email Grace Halio at [email protected].