The first time I consciously felt as though I'd found my place in this city was on the trip back from an overnight class trip to Rome last year. When the train pulled into the station, I caught myself thinking "I'm home" and, for the first time, really meaning it. Since then, Stazione di Santa Maria Novella has been one of my "happy places".

Somehow I've been living in Italy for over a year now and, predictably, Florence feels even more like home. Maybe that's partly because the initial "dazzle" of life here is long gone; at this point, I can accept and love Florence for all of its beauty, its quirks, and its problems. That being said, I'm pleased to report that the excitement of the train station hasn't worn off (and I hope it never will). I swung by Santa Maria Novella late last night to use the photobooth in preparation for an appointment to renew my Italian permit of stay, and although it was late at night, I didn't end up leaving right away. My motivation for hanging out at the station without a train to catch isn't surprising: I saw a photo, pulled out my camera, and... well, you can guess what happened next.

Santa Maria Novella is a totally different experience after 10PM. The hustle and bustle has dwindled down, and instead the station takes on a peacefulness that I've certainly never experienced there during the day. Half-asleep travelers fall asleep on each other's shoulders only to be periodically awoken, slightly dazed, by the announcements of departures and arrivals. Things move slower and it's easier to observe the people around you. Maybe it was the wine from dinner getting to my head, but I believe there's something beautiful about train stations late at night...