Story and Photographs by Melinda Rizzo
Florentines are accustomed to waiting.
From Michelangelo to Botticelli, DaVinci to Galileo, Florentines have cultured their passions into pearls, like a single grain of sand nestled deep inside an oyster and emerging over time to become a gem of the sea.
This year was my 30th, or Pearl, wedding anniversary.
To celebrate this milestone, my husband and I opted to take a trip to Florence, the heart and breath of Italy’s Tuscany region.
In January, we made the decision to travel to Italy at the end of November. Planning and executing this trip—one in which we’d invited a cousin and were traveling with our 12-year-old son—took time and patience. Patience, you might say, of the Florentines.
I’ve never considered myself a patient person.
Cathedrals take time to build, often centuries, still Florentines seem content to wait knowing their labors are never in vain.
As Carl Jung, a 20th century Swiss psychiatrist would contend, any work with purpose regardless of its nature, ultimately provides satisfaction and even pleasure for the worker.
Prosciutto crudo (air dried and cured pork) from Parma and arguably the pride of its area, can take as long as two years from start to finish to be ready for consumption.
Two years for a ham and cheese sandwich, but what a sandwich it makes! Prosciutto for me, and my son, is porcine transcendence.
Does anyone ordering a prosciutto focaccia pressed and toasted, consider the amount of time it took to create the ham? A moment of mastication melts these buttery mouthfuls, and they are gone.
Florentines linger over osteria menus . . . along alleyways . . . and outside the windows of leather shops.
Street performers sing operatic arias. They pump life into an accordion’s complication.
They strum a guitar or play the love theme from Florentine Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film Romeo and Juliet in the Piazza Signoria, where I rented our apartment. They spend time and care honing their musicianship. For those who love music, they offer kinship without translation.
Street performers share their art in exchange for spare change dropped into a basket poised at their feet. Skilled musicians bear witness to patience and waiting.
Witnessing the patience of Florentines: to execute a 17-foot-tall statue of David in marble, paint the mythological birth of Venus over the ocean waves or slice tissue thin prosciutto from the seasoned hindquarters of a pig, taught me a thing or two about this most elusive of virtues.
Consider the amount of time it takes for someone to carve mounds of
Nutella, vanilla or tutti fruitti gelato, into tempting, irresistible towering creations
decorated with fruit slices, nuts or plump, glistening blackberries and shiny