by Melinda Gallo

Filling up my heart with beauty

Initially I would go to the gardens in Florence to admire the flowers, the trees, and the view, but now I go to to immerse myself in nature and embrace the beauty around me. The other morning, I crossed Ponte alle Grazie, walked through San Niccolò, and hiked up the low hill to the Giardino delle Rose. The moment I walked through the opening in the stone wall, I took in a deep breath and held it for a few seconds. I pulled back my shoulders in an attempt to open my heart a bit more so I could be ready to receive an abundance of beauty.

Living in Florence :: Filling up my heart with beauty

It’s such a treat for me to stroll through the garden where the city noise is reduced to a low hum while the sound of the birds chirping and the leaves whistling in the wind are more intense. The warm air brushed against my face, bringing with it the scent of fertile soil, grass, and flowers. I was surprised that only a few people were ambling along the stone paths, snapping photos of themselves with the view behind them, but the temperatures were rising quickly.

I marched up to an area that has only recently opened toward the back of the garden to admire a panorama of my beloved city. The Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio and Ponte Vecchio dominated the vast expanse of buildings with terracotta roofs. Butterflies floated in the air while bees dove into the center of the roses. I enjoyed the shade of the trees and the cooler gusts of wind encircling me, bringing with it the mixed scents of the garden.

While I watched a merlo (blackbird) hopping around pecking at the dirt, my eyes were diverted by a yellow butterfly bobbing up and down in the air. I listened to a few birds chirping while remaining hidden from view, a group of cicadas singing from the trees, and the murmur of a musician playing guitar outside the garden. I looked up to admire the view every once in a while, but enjoyed watching a couple of bees diving into the flowers in the bush next to me. I remained seated in the same spot until the noon church bells rang throughout the city.

My walk down through the Giardino delle Rose was slower: each step I took was with more reverence. I hopped onto the grass to enjoy the roses a bit more. I gently posed my nose on a pink rose’s velvety petals, closing my eyes and breathing in its sweet fragrance. I inhaled a second and a third time in an attempt to keep its scent in my memory. I moved onto another rose bush whose yellow blossoms lured me toward it with their delicate perfume.

As I descended the stone steps to exit the garden, I let my hand graze the ivy leaves, which were of different shades of green, extending across the stone wall. When I stepped onto the street to head toward the Porta San Miniato, I couldn’t help but smile. I’m fortunate to experience so much beauty through my heart: it’s a precious gift that fills me with much love and joy.

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