by Melinda Gallo

Making the most of our quiet down period

This lockdown seems to be more of a quiet down period for us. Florence feels like she’s in hibernation with all the shops, cafés, and restaurants being closed. The streets, piazzas, and bridges are empty; however, we’re still able to go outside for a stroll alone, walk the dog, and purchase necessities. When I need to go outside, I keep away from the typically denser areas around Piazza della Signoria, Duomo, and Piazza Repubblica. I prefer to not encounter too many people if I can. It’s hard enough along the Arno to stay at least a meter from someone else that walking down a narrow street is even more complicated.

Living in Florence :: Making the most of our quiet down period

Over the last few days, the weather has been cloudy and gray, fitting the mood of the city after they announced our lockdown. The streets were so quiet and solemn that it seemed we were all grieving the loss of our freedom. Fortunately, today we had clear blue skies, which lightened up the mood and inspired more people to go outside for a bit.

After lunch, I hiked up to Piazzale Michelangiolo, preferring the Rampe del Poggio instead of my normal route up the wide stone staircase next to the Giardino delle Rose. Not only because I didn’t want to cross paths with anyone, but I also wanted to stay in the sun.

When I arrived up at Piazzale Michelangiolo, only three other people were walking around admiring the view and taking photos while two police cars and a few policemen were patrolling the area. I took a few photos because I hadn’t been able to take any since I returned from my trip to Germany. Whenever I’m away from Florence, I run up to the piazzale or to the gardens to take photos of Florence from afar. It was so quiet that all I heard were the birds chirping from the trees while I admired how spring is already spreading her joy with tiny yellow flowers and purple irises in full bloom. 

I then proceeded down viale Galileo to my favorite spot to take a few photos of the view, not seeing anyone. It wasn’t until after I hiked up to San Miniato al Monte that I remembered that the cemetery would be closed. I stood at the bottom of the stairs to create a tiny Zen stack (cairn) to send peace out over Florence and beyond.

With the wind whipping past me, I headed back down the long way along viale Michelangiolo. I smiled as I strolled down my running path, which I have missed. When I saw a few runners and bikers going both ways up the viale, I wondered if I should go for a run. I think if I do that, I’ll wait for a sunny day like today.

With our “quiet down,” it feels like we all got thrown off the hamster wheel and now realize what is essential: our health, our loved ones, and the basics (food, water, and shelter). Hopefully, we can put our lives into better perspective by the time we conclude the lockdown. But in the meantime, we have to keep our spirits up and our outlook positive.

Here are the rules about going outside during the lockdown: Coronavirus:sì alle passeggiate ma uscite da soli. Cosa si può fare published in La Repubblica on March 13, 2020.

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