by Melinda Gallo

Being present on the Ponte Santa Trinita

Standing in the middle of the Ponte Santa Trinita, I feel as if I am in the center of Florence. It’s not that the ponte (bridge) is in the middle of the city physically, but it is where I feel completely immersed in Florence’s energy. On the ponte, I feel as if I am a part of Florence’s completeness with the water flowing below me, people circulating around me, and the buildings and monuments above me.

Living in Florence :: Being present on the Ponte Santa Trinita

I don’t go to the Ponte Santa Trinita to people-watch as much as I go to feel the aliveness of my beloved city. I enjoy admiring the sky changing colors while the sun inches across the sky, seeing the reflections of the buildings on the river, observing the comings and goings on the ponte, and watching the canottieri (rowers) rowing up and down the Arno.

Last night while the sun was setting, I stood in the center of the ponte along the low wall, facing the sun. I admired the sky as it changed colors: from blue to yellow, to orange, to pink, and then to a light purple. The reflections on the Arno were blurry because of the light wind blowing west. A few times, I turned around to take a look at the Ponte Vecchio, but had to wait for a break in the crossing over of all the buses, cars, and motorini (scooters) to get a clear view. As the sun was setting, the lights in the shops on the Ponte Vecchio shimmered on the Arno and the almost full moon hung above it and was reflected on the water below as well.

The Ponte Santa Trinita is certainly not a quiet spot to ponder although I have been able to write while sitting on the ponte in the afternoon. Last night, bicycle riders rang their bells to signal to the pedestrians in the bike lane to let them pass. On both sides of the ponte, people were taking photos. A few photographers set up their tripods to take a photo of the Ponte Vecchio while others took photos with their selfie sticks.

On the Ponte Vecchio, tourists meander across it, peruse the jewelry shop displays, and stop to admire the view of the Arno while locals zigzag around them on foot and on bike. However, on the Ponte Santa Trinita, locals and tourists mix. They practically bump into each other on the narrow sidewalk to either get across or stop to either chat or take pictures.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Being present on the Ponte Santa TrinitaAs the sky grew dark, I dodged the traffic and crossed the Ponte Santa Trinita to take photos of the Ponte Vecchio to the east and then back to the other side to take photos of the Ponte alla Carraia to the west. The colors were completely different on each side almost as if it were a different sky altogether.

Eventually, I sat down on the low limestone wall, which had soaked up the day’s cool temperatures to just breathe in my beloved city. Not only did I admire the view on both sides of the Ponte Santa Trinita, but also the ponte itself. I began thinking about the bridge’s name “Holy Trinity,” which is the state of being three. In numerology, the number three represents a complete cycle, like beginning, middle, and end or past, present, and future.

As I walked home along the Arno, I realized that the time I spent on the Ponte Santa Trinita to appreciate my beloved city’s beauty and rhythm is just another way for me to fully embrace the present moment. Not only did I feel at one with my surroundings, but I also felt a great sense of appreciation for my beloved city, my loved ones, and myself.

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