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Friday, December 14, 2012

Memories: How We Remember

I returned to Italy for a two week visit, after not being here for eight years.  I spent some time in Riccione, Italy on the Adriatic Sea, where I've never been before.  Right now, I'm in Florence, where I spent several days when I was in Italy for the first time eight years ago.  I'm noticing how my experiences are different this time in terms of what I remember from the last time and how I'm experiencing Florence now.

Memory, which is so embued with whatever experiences we're having at that particular point in time, is often unreliable. When I returned to see Santa Croce, one of the major churches in Florence, this time, I remembered many of the frescoes that I saw before.  But there were many other works of art that I don't remember at all, which were there the last time.

There's something wonderful about coming back and re-experiencing what I experienced on the first visit.  There's also something wonderful about making new discoveries, things that were there all along but that I didn't notice the first time.  For instance, I went to the Duomo Museum this time and was very moved to see Michelangelo's Pieta, which you can see close up (as compared to his Pieta in Rome).  I was amused that he used his own face for the face of Nicodemus, who is holding up Christ, who was just taken down from the cross.

Before I came to Florence the first time, people warned me that it can be overwhelming.  But I haven't experienced it this way.  There's always so much more to see than you can see in a limited amount of time, but I'm happy to have seen the beautiful artwork that I've seen.  I don't worry about what I haven't seen because my sense is that I'll be back at some point.

Life feels very different in Florence than it does in New York.  For one thing, I think that living in a city where there is so much beauty going back centuries gives one a feeling of being more rooted in time and tradition.  Of course, this has it's positive and negative aspects, as I've learned from speaking to Italians living here.

In general, traveling is interesting because of what we discover about ourselves in another culture--how we respond to differences and similarities, the memories that it evokes in us and the longings that we discover that we, at times, didn't even realize we had until we leave our everyday lives.

The last time I came, it was in late October.  The weather was warmer.  This time, it's much colder, but the beautiful Christmas decorations are up.  Although it's close to Christmas, people don't appear harried.  Of course, Florence is much smaller than New York City with fewer people, so that's part of it.  But people also seem to linger in cafes and restaurants to enjoy their food, their wine, and their family and friends.  Many of the restaurants produce their own delicious wines from the hills in Tuscany.  They serve it to their patrons with great pride and hospitality.

I leave today for a couple of days in Rome.  I'll be sorry to leave Florence, but I definitely want to return to this charming city.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist, who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006.


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