20 February 2009

Arzigogolare: to let one's mind wander

I am still trying to grasp the exact meaning of ‘arzigogolare’, a word I came across when I was first learning Italian. My textbook translated the verb as ‘to let one’s mind wander’, though it’s also linked to other, more negative meanings (to quibble, to build castles in the air). I was fascinated by the word’s zing, by the connotations of daydreaming, and while I have since discovered that not everyone considers ‘letting your mind wander’ to be a worthy pursuit, I do believe it’s essential for a creative life.

So enamored was I of the unusual verb that the opening chapter of the book that would later become The Piazza of Florence was originally entitled ‘Arzigogolare’. The name seemed to reflect the receptive state of mind needed for recording one’s travels, which had been the focus of the first chapter. As the book changed and evolved, however, the word no longer seemed to have a place; it retreated to the back of my mind, waiting for the right time.

Over the years the concept of ‘letting my mind wander’ has remained part of my creative routine, and as such it seemed the right title for my Florence-inspired musings. Much in the way that Florence’s piazzas are places of coming together . . . for events, experiences and memories . . . I am hoping this space will become a similar kind of ‘place’—a place for everyday reflections inspired by the city of Florence.

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