Remain. Renew.

The bells of Florence woke me up this morning. Yesterday it was the local pigeons. Both of which I have grown to look forward to. Tomorrow it could be either one of the two that I will hear first. Whichever it will be, it is a welcome change to the alarm clock.

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There is something very heartwarming in both the appearance of the ragged birds and the pitiful noises they make. Florence has an amazing array of pigeons of different sizes and colors, and they have an admirable coordination with the sparrows pecking bread crumbs right beside them. However, even  more than their looks, they will be remembered by the cooing and the grunting that always seems to be present when in Florence.

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A local called Yasmin told me that Florentines are proud and traditional, unwilling to accept change in their beautiful city. In my eyes, Florence does not need a change. On the contrary, I was happy to see the old preserved and cherished. We Nordic people have grown to appreciate practical solutions, due to our battles against freezing cold winters or snowstorms that bring in the snow sideways, that the impracticality of ancient cities such as Florence offers us an amusing contrast. To come to the realization that there are places where people don’t mind the fact that street noises reach the top floors and all traffic seizes in the narrow cobblestone streets when there are goods to deliver. Yasmin seemed to be one of those people.

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Later I read that not everyone is like Yasmin. I read that people living in the old cities such as Florence and Venice find it so impractical that they move to more convenient suburbs with more convenient houses, leaving the city empty of life. In Venice they have started a project in order to support living in the impractical ancient stone houses of the inner city. Hopefully there will be one for Florence as well. Or maybe there already is, and I just haven’t heard about it. It would be wonderful to see the inner city people greeting the rising sun on their balconies and airing their blankets and pillows out of their windows also in the future.

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When I come back to Florence I hope to find the church bells and the pigeons, the locals in their windows and balconies, and the nimble cars with their quick-tempered drivers in the narrow alleys that will once again make me wonder if I a time machine has taken me back to the begin of time. I also hope that the city can renew itself so the citizens can feel themselves at home, and most importantly in the ways that can help people preserve the true and unique character of that ancient city.

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