Appreciating Florence every day

This past week, I experienced my beloved city even more while she continues to awaken. A feeling of excitement fills the air as more of the museums, gardens, shops, and restaurants open and more people arrive to visit Florence. It was a joy for me to do and see more than I have been able to do in months. I felt a greater sense of appreciation while visiting monuments and gardens, walking around Florence, running up to Piazzale Michelangiolo, and watching a sunset.

Living in Florence :: Appreciating Florence every day

Visiting the Giardino Bardini was like being able to breathe again. I reveled in seeing how the garden had rejuvenated and prospered while it was closed to the public. On my walk home from watching the sunset, it was a delight to see the bright blue sky highlighting the Duomo from Ponte Vecchio. Admiring the Battistero di San Giovanni from the Campanile di Giotto was a way to honor it for the masterpiece that it is.

I ended the week by watching the sunset from Ponte Santa Trinita, where I basked in the expansive view above the Arno and admired how the sunset developed. On Sunday, I ran up to Piazzale Michelangiolo and hiked up to San Miniato al Monte. While I admired the view from the basilica, I listened to the church bells ringing behind me.

I choose to live every day of my life with more reverence, delight, and love fills me with great joy. I donít allow memories to happen to me; I create memories by diving into a moment, embracing it through all my senses, and appreciating it.

Giardino Bardini ó†June 2, 2020

The familiar sound of the gravel crunching under each of my steps filled my heart with joy. I breathed in the sweet scent of Giardino Bardini. That fragrance of fertile soil, humid air, green leaves, and trees. I strolled the winding pathway and then up the stone staircase of the lower garden.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Giardino Bardini

Along the low incline, I perused the rose bushes. I slid my mask down to get a whiff of their gentle scent. White, lemony yellow, and orange butterflies chased each other above the rosebushes and toward the fruit trees above. In front of each rosebush, I stopped to examine the pastel-colored roses. Bees swarmed around the roses and dove into one and then another with great determination.

Making my way through the pergola, I admired how the wisteria had filled in so well, dangling its long pods full between the bright green leaves. I quickly pulled out my iPhone when I saw a bunch of purple wisteria blossoms dangling along one side of the pergola behind the pink hydrangeas. Even though the official wisteria season is over, Iím hoping that a few blossoms might emerge.

I followed the narrow gravel path to the back section of the garden. I sat down on the wooden bench next to the pozzo (water well. Tears welled up in my eyes when I heard the trees whistle and saw a sprinkling of leaves fall onto the bushes below. I didnít know how much I missed being around the trees.

I slipped my mask down to breathe in the fertile scent of nature swirling around me. The bushes and trees had all filled out and grown taller since I was last here in February. The wood pigeons and blackbirds didnít make an appearance while I sat on the bench, but kept me company with their chirping from the neighboring trees.

As I wandered down the gravel pathway to exit the gardens, I breathed in deeply with each step to replenish myself with all the tranquility, beauty, and love that nature so generously offers us.

Ponte Vecchio ó†June 3, 2020

After dinner tonight, I headed out to Ponte Santa Trinita to watch the sunset. The gray sky barely allowed the sun to shine through. I braved the chilly wind whipping past me, creating ripples on the water. Only a few people sat on the bridge while I peered west, hoping to see the sky change colors. The sun glowed behind the clouds for a few moments and then faded. It wasnít until the streetlamps came on that I got up to walk home. I had hoped that the colors would become more dramatic, but the sky turned a dull blue.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Ponte Vecchio

On my way home, the sound of a musician playing a guitar and singing captured my attention. I turned onto the Ponte Vecchio and made my way toward him. Only a few people were strolling across the bridge in both directions. I looked up to admire the colorful flags, adorning the Ponte Vecchio, that they put up for the Republic Day yesterday. When I arrived at the center of the bridge, some people were leaning against the stone wall on each side of the Ponte Vecchio, listening to the musician play.

I stood next to Cellini and looked out at Ponte Santa Trinita where I was a few minutes earlier, but didnít take a photo. It was too chilly for me to stay, so I walked back down the Ponte Vecchio toward Lungarno degli Archibusieri. The bright blue sky above the Duomo in the distance was so captivating that†I immediately stopped and took this photo with my iPhone.

Iím happy I stayed as late as I did on Ponte Santa Trinita so I could make my way to the Ponte Vecchio and capture this delightful sight. I hadnít seen the blue hour in months and this one moment brought me so much joy.†

Battistero di San Giovanni ó†June 5, 2020

Last Friday, I hiked up the Campanile di Giotto to admire the views of Florence. The weather this morning is the same as it was on that day: the threat of rain hanging in the air, gusts of wind howling through the narrow streets, and clouds of all shapes and sizes gliding quickly across the sky to the east.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Battistero di San Giovanni

Upon arriving to each level, the guard stood at the entrance to the stairs leading up so we could take in the view before proceeding to the next level. I made my rounds, avoiding the other visitors, to admire the view on all four sides. Bursts of air rushed in through the tall openings on each side and flung one womanís jacket to to ground.†

On the second level, I hopped up the stone block to admire the Duomo. It appeared even more majestic up close. After snapping a few photos of it, I rushed to the other side to gaze at the Battistero di San Giovanni. I positioned my iPhone so I could take a photo of the baptistery in its entirety through the square hole in the barbed wire fence.†

When I put my cellphone back in my pocket, I stood as close as I could to the barbed wire to examine the baptistery. I loved admiring it without being distracted by the Duomo looming behind it. But from the belltower, the baptistery dominated the piazza, even if the Basilica di San Lorenzo was peeking over its shoulder. My body relaxed as I reveled in the view.

A few people roamed around the Piazza di San Giovanni, a bicyclist carrying a food delivery backpack zipped through the crowds, and the military police stood guard near the entrance of the Duomo.

I stood as long as I could in place to examine the intricate details of the baptistery, like the octagonal roof, the faÁadeís symmetrical designs in white and green marble, and the statues above the Porte del Paradiso, the ďGates of Paradise,Ē which has become the entrance of the baptistery. It was the first time I noticed the gilded cross above the sphere at the top.

When I reached the second level again, I veered off the path of visitors and rushed over to the north side to say goodbye to the baptistery. Admiring the Battistero di San Giovanni from the Campanile di Giotto is like holding it in your hand and caressing it.

Ponte Santa Trinita ó†June 6, 2020

When I first arrived on Ponte Santa Trinita this evening, a group of teens were sitting at my spot taking a selfie. I know my spot because of the fissure in the stone block. Most people seem to remain towards the beginning and end of the bridge while I prefer to stand in the middle. I love gazing west so I can revel in the skyís expansiveness. Itís a welcome change from the snippets of the sky I glimpse while strolling through the narrow street.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Ponte Santa Trinita

After the group left, I claimed my spot and faced the sun. I smiled with glee at the sunlight twinkling on the surface of the Arno. Over time, the sun shot its rays out from behind the clouds, reaching high in the sky and then stretching across the water toward me.

The howling of the wind muted all the surrounding sounds, like the passersby chatting, the scooters zipping across the bridge, and the bicyclists ringing their bells. At moments, the gusts of wind were so strong that I had to grip my iPhone tightly with both hands. At 8 PM, I strained my ears to enjoy the faint sound of the church bells ringing.

A few times when no one was near me, I pulled down my mask to take in a few deep breaths. A soft smile spread across my face as I recognized the familiar scent of the Arno. I canít distinguish its particular smells, but I know its fresh green scent that always uplifts me.

I kept my eye on the sun as it slid down the sky at an angle. Its reflection moving from left to right along the Arno. Every once in a while, swifts would fly by and distract me from the sunset. Their wings spread out wide as if embracing the wind and enjoying their freedom.

As soon as the sun dropped behind the clouds, I headed back along Lungarno degli Acciaioli. The workmen have been repaving the street for months, and itís nearly finished. The sidewalks are noticeably wider on both sides of the now narrower car lane.

When I returned home to peruse my photos, I wasnít sure which one to pick. I chose one of the last photos I took after standing on Ponte Santa Trinita for almost an hour. For me, no one photo can represent a sunset because itís like a work of art that continually evolves.

San Miniato al Monte ó June 7, 2020

The San Remigio church bells rang the moment I stepped out of my apartment this morning. As soon as I arrived at Ponte alle Grazie, I took in one deep breath and began my run. I filled up my lungs with the sweet air from the Arno and felt the sun seeping through my clothes, warming up my skin. I glanced both ways along the bridge a few times before turning left onto Lungarno Serristori.

Living in Florence, Italy :: San Miniato al Monte

I couldnít help but smile at how great it felt to be running again. The wind grazing my face while my arms and legs found their rhythm. The sidewalk was busy: couples holding hands making their way toward the Ponte Vecchio, small groups of runners passing by, and families on bicycles going to and from the center.

During my run up viale Michelangelo, I relished in the scent of white jasmine blossoms and uncut grass along the path. The winding road took me straight up to Piazzale Michelangiolo, where groups of people gathered to admire brightly colored sports cars, some people stood along the railing to admire the view, and a few others meandered around the souvenir stalls.

I headed toward San Miniato al Monte and darted up the stone staircase when I saw that it was open. I slowed down when I arrived below the basilicaís wide staircase. I love admiring the basilica as I hike up to it. As I passed through the gates, I let out a sigh. After walking up a few steps, I turned around to admire the view for a few moments before taking a photo.

As soon as I reached the railing above the cemetery, the basilicaís bells started to ring. I continued to admire the view while people entered the basilica for mass. Every time I see Florence from afar, she appears too beautiful to be real. Sometimes I canít believe that I live in a city that possesses so much beautyóboth manmade and natural.

I not only missed running up to Piazzale Michelangiolo but also hiking up to San Miniato al Monte. I love running in and around Florence because all along the way, I can commune with Florence and all the beauty around me.

When I arrived home, the San Remigio church bells rang again, making my morning run even more memorable.

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