by Melinda Gallo

Basking in the Giardino delle Rose

For me, there is something magical about sitting in the Giardino delle Rose. I enjoy hearing the hum of the cars whizzing by in the distance mixed with the sound of the birds chirping in the trees. The various sounds traversing the air remind me of how I'm able to simultaneously embrace all of Florence’s facets—from the tranquility of the gardens to the busyness of the city. On a windy day last week, I found myself mesmerized by the rustling of the tree branches in the giardino. Usually they are quite silent, but on that day, they made their presence known.

Living in Florence :: Basking in the Giardino delle Rose

What I love most about being in the giardino is that it reminds me that change is essential. Some of the trees had no leaves and almost all of the rosebushes were bare. I walked by the week before when the gardeners were pruning the rosebushes. It’s hard to believe that in a few weeks countless colorful roses will be filling up my senses once again. I study the rosebushes’s naked branches and find a few tiny leaves and rose buds. When I see the the mimosa, jasmine, crocus, and daffodil blossoms, I am assured that Mother Nature has a plan. The yellow flowers not only fill me with delight, but also add color to the giardino while the rosebushes are being revitalized.

I was the only one sitting in the garden. Not only was it quite chilly, but the threat of rain predicted for later in the afternoon probably persuaded most people to go somewhere warmer. I felt a great desire to spend time in the giardino. When I immerse myself in Mother Nature, I am always inspired me to open up, to be more aware of my surroundings, and to bask in all of it. After only a few minutes, I felt the urge to write. I pulled out my notebook and pen and began to write down what I was feeling and thinking. A few times, however, I had to stop writing so I could plunge my hands in the pockets of my jacket to warm them back up.

I continued writing until a gust of wind encircled me and blew my hair in my face. It was becoming more difficult to stay warm with my bare hands braving the elements. I remained a little longer, however, to absorb more of the beauty around me. I listened to the sounds inside and outside of the giardino, smelled the faint scent of freshly cut grass, and admired other details, like the grass poking out between the uneven stones on the path underneath my feet.

Only one group of four people rushed around the giardino to take photos of Florence from different angles. They laughed with glee and filled the garden with their delight. Another woman walked along a gravel path above the giardino and glanced only a few times at the naked rosebushes below. I assumed she was a little disappointed that there weren’t any roses to revel in since she exited without stopping.

When I stood up from the stone bench, a cat swiftly trotted toward me. He meowed as he brushed himself against each of my legs and then passed between them. I knelt down to pet him and then walked away. He followed me initially as I made my way to the Japanese Shorai Oasis and then disappeared. When I reached this Zen space, I paused to listen to the water trickling down the stone fountain on the slope of the giardino. My eyes naturally closed so I could take pleasure in the moment even more.

I delight in Florence as much as I can. I make a point every day to commune with her. She gives me so much joy and love that I feel it’s only normal to give back to her by finding more of her to love and appreciate.

I don’t plan on taking photos of Florence when I go out. I’m always prepared with my iPhone in my jacket pocket. There is always one moment that inspires me to pull out my iPhone and take a photo. Each photo is not only a moment in my life; it’s a moment in Florence’s life. Every single photo I take is a memento of the time I spent holding Florence in my embrace.

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