by Sivan W. Trattoria Mario’s at 12:34 on a hot Florentine Wednesday. The place to be. It is a small restaurant located on the outskirts of the San Lorenzo marketplace. It’s only open from 12pm-4pm, it is communal dining and the menu changes every day. It’s the first restaurant we’ve actually had to wait for a table, so after waiting and shopping the markets for a while we were excited to see what it was all about. Three of us were seated at a table for four. The empty seat was inhabited by an old Italian man with gray facial hair and a bright orange polo. He nodded to each of us saying, “Bongiorno, Ciao, Ciao”. We smiled and muttered what may have sounded like an Italian greeting back. The atmosphere in the restaurant was amazing; it was crowded, filled with hustle and bustle, yelling in all different languages, people from all over the world. We were a bit frazzled, but our new Italian friend seemed very familiar with the place. He ordered and finished his food before we even received our water. I asked his rating of his dish with a thumbs up or down; he gave a big smile, thumbs up and a nod. Then he got up, said “Ciao,” and walked away. He was so calm and happy to be there with the huge crowd, despite his solo title. Our new Italian friend was the perfect parallel to the city of Florence. It is quite overcrowded, loud and full of people from all over the world, but there is a sense of independence. A calm knowing that you can be alone without ever having to feel empty. This is the unique magic Florence has, just as the small Italian man felt in Trattoria Mario’s.