by Melinda Gallo

A quick visit to Santo Spirito

Some days I wish I could visit my beloved city more often. I'd walk to different piazze and just sit down to watch the events that go on. I love admiring the surrounding buildings and monuments to see if I observe any new features or other peculiarities that I hadn't noticed before. I try to walk down different streets once in a while so that I can discover something new. It's so easy to continually walk the same paths over and over in such a small city, but sometimes it's nice to change.

I'm very fortunate to have a flexible work schedule that allows me some free time during the day so I can get out once in a while to spend some time enjoying my city, but sometimes it's not enough. I'd like to take a day off a week to walk around and explore even more. On the weekends when most people have more free time, I'm rarely in the mood to walk around because I know how busy the city streets are. I prefer to go out when there are fewer people around.

The other day I walked to Piazza Santo Spirito to meet a friend for a coffee. I got there early because I wanted to stroll around the piazza a little. I was happy to see the small outside mercato (market) with a few banchi (stands) scattered around the piazza. I planned on buying some fruits and vegetables before leaving because my ortolano (green grocer) is on vacation, and I didn't want to walk to all the way over to the Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio..

Instead of walking to the side of the piazza near via Mazzetta to check out the merecato, I walked into the chiesa (church) instead because the doors were wide open.

When I lived in Florence by myself in 1998, I worked close by and would often go to the chiesa. I never had a reason to go, but felt comfortable inside alone. I'd sit in front of a statue of a saint to the left of the altar for a few minutes and just stare at it. Many times I felt the urge to write and I'd pull out a notebook and scribble some notes to myself.

I hadn't been inside the chiesa in a long time because it was closed for a while. I didn't have much time, but I did walk up to the statue that I used to stare at and and take a good look at it. The statue is of a small saint with a burning heart and a book. I was once told which one it was, but I can no longer remember. It wasn't important, but I just felt like the statue was a good companion to me when I would sit there alone.

Today the middle doors of the chiesa were open and I peered outside to look at the piazza. The contrast was great while I observed the lively and sunny piazza from inside the quiet and dark chiesa.

A few people are enjoying a coffee on the terrazza (terrace) of one of the cafés in the piazza. The tall leafy trees in the piazza make me think of the countryside.

I walk outside toward the banchi to wait for my friend in front of a café. Even though there are people walking around and the mercato is open, I can still hear the water trickle down the fountain in the middle of the piazza.

It's a cool and sunny morning, so it feels even more pleasant in the shade. When I see my friend walking toward me, I'm so happy, but a part of me would like to stand in the piazza for longer just to take it all in.

After our time together, I leave the piazza and look at the closed chiesa. I had hoped to take another peek inside, but now I'll have to wander over to piazza Santo Spirito another day to enjoy it longer.

Share your comments for this blog post on the Living in Florence's Facebook page. Grazie!