by Melinda Gallo

Savoring the roses in the Giardino delle Rose

When I looked out my windows this morning and saw the clear blue sky, I couldn’t wait to get outside. Because of the rain we’ve had the past couple of days, I knew I had to take advantage of the sun while it was out. I knew exactly where I would go as I headed out of my apartment. As I crossed Ponte alle Grazie, the chilly air tousled my hair. I paused for a moment to admire the light brown water rushing steadily over the weir and making its way to the Ponte Vecchio.  

Living in Florence :: Savoring the roses in the Giardino delle Rose

After I reached the stone walkway at the top of the Giardino delle Rose's staircase, a sense of tranquility embraced me. The moment I saw the large grassy area behind the persimmon tree, I hopped onto the grass to examine the rose bushes one by one. My feet sunk into the tall grass, which was so damp that my shoes got wet as I looked for the roses.

The gardeners pruned the rose bushes since I was here last week, but I found many rose buds and a few roses in full bloom. It was delightful to see such a variety of colors: white, pink, yellow, orange, fuchsia, and red. Since most rose bushes had only a few roses, I admired each one for its persistence through our rainy season so it could blossom. The most amazing roses I saw today were the bright pink ones reaching up to the sky at least a meter above me. 

I circled each of the rose bushes throughout the garden to admire the radiant roses and inhale their scent. A few times, I had to sniff the roses a few times because their perfume was so delicate I could hardly smell it. One rose I couldn’t approach because a bee swirled near my face to chase me away. When I backed away from it, it landed on it.

I avoided the stone path where the persimmon tree was because a few persimmons were still hanging on the top branches of the tree. All around the tree, many others had already fallen onto the ground. With the sun shining directly on the tree, the bright orange fruits looked like ornaments on a Christmas tree.

I sat down on the low stone wall bordering one of the grassy areas to take advantage of the sun while still being surrounded by all the rose bushes. While the trickling sound of the water in the fountain remained constant, I could still decipher a few other sounds, like a crow cawing, a woman shrieking with glee when she arrived against the iron railing above the garden and looked at the garden, workmen hammering inside a neighboring building, a few birds chirping from separate trees, and various church bells ringing.

As the sun was making its way across the sky, the sunlight illuminated the garden. When the shadows cast on the garden disappeared, I hopped back up and toured the entire garden to study the rose bushes again. This time, I saw other roses I didn’t see the first time. I rushed to one small rose bush when I spotted a burgundy rose nestled between the branches.

After making my way back up the stone path, I sat down on a wooden bench in a tiny area above the garden and basked in the sun. As yellow and brown leaves swirled around my feet and the crisp scent of grass tickled my nose, I admired Florence under the cloudless sky.

I almost didn’t want to leave the Giardino delle Rose because it was so peaceful. It wasn’t until I heard San Miniato al Monte’s bells ringing that I headed back home through the narrow streets of San Niccolò, taking with me the beauty and tranquility I immersed myself with today thanks to each rose.

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