As autumn is winding down, many of the trees are now bare, only a few roses remain, the sky grows dark by early afternoon, and the air is chilly for most of the day. I continue to visit the gardens to immerse myself in their beauty. The view of Florence surrounded by colorful roses infused me with tranquility.
One of my favorite moments over these past couple of weeks was when I stood along the lungarno to admire the Ponte Vecchio at sunset. A delightful array of colors from the woodbine leaves, lush lawn, and the pale blue sky radiated a sense of harmony.
Every location I visited offered another perspective of Florence, framing her in a way that renders her even more fascinating. Wherever I go, I always seek the Duomo first and then look for other monuments, like the Palazzo Vecchio, the Basilica di Santa Croce, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Basilica di San Lorenzo. One highlight over these last few weeks was the holiday decorations that lit up Piazza Santa Trinita, infusing me with glee.
What I enjoyed the most was seeing how the sun’s golden glow shined on the buildings and the clouds tinted the sky a myriad of colors. Even though autumn is coming to an end, I’m looking forward to what winter will bring to enhance Florence’s beauty.
Giardino delle Rose — November 5, 2020Dry leaves crackle under my feet as I walk around the rosebushes. Pale-colored petals sprinkled like confetti around the base of the rosebushes fill me with glee. Golden leaves hopping across the bright green lawn grab my attention.
I sit down on a stone bench protruding from the wall to let my eyes graze the view. Beyond the garden’s silvery olive trees, tile rooftops and pastel-colored buildings define the distance between me and the Duomo. White brushstrokes streak the pale blue sky and spotlight Monte Morello that appears like a backdrop behind a thin veil of clouds. Ravens perched on long cypress branches bounce in the air.
A steady flow of water cascades into the fountain. My breathing slows down as if trying to recalibrate itself with my environment. I smile at an elderly couple strolling hand in hand up the gravel path.
Countless roses of all colors — pink, white, orange, yellow, and red — are blossoming. Under each bush is a black sign with its name written in chalk. Some varieties I am always eager to see, like Jude the Obscure with its rich orange and pink petals, Eglantine with its light pink petals that begin as fuchsia, and William Shakespeare with its compact deep magenta petals. I can’t help but feel joy when I admire Moulinex, whose buds are bright pink and its blossoms yellow.
I dip my nose into each one to enjoy their unique scent, which infuses me with tranquility and love.
I sit for what feels like an hour to admire the colors warm up and then cool down. Golden rays of light peek through the tall cypress trees just beyond the garden’s wall and cast a warm glow on the garden, highlighting a few of the roses. I tighten my scarf when a cool breeze seeps under my jacket.
The gardener marches past me, saying out loud that the garden is closing. I sit for a few more minutes while he descends to the Japanese garden and closes the gate at the bottom. When he heads back toward me, I scamper to the exit at the top of the garden and slip through the open gate.
As I walk down the scalinata back to San Niccolò, I thank the roses peeking above the stone wall. To be surrounded by roses is to be immersed in love.
Lungarno Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici — November 9, 2020Leaning over the brick wall on the Lungarno Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, I take in a deep breath. Gratitude bubbles up inside of me when I stand along this part of the lungarno. A blanket of maroon-colored caprifoglio (woodbine) leaves flutter on the pergola above the bright green lawn. Autumn is losing its strength: some leaves have already turned brown and fallen to the ground.
A cool breeze carries the scent of the water toward me. I close my eyes for a moment to capture it. The surface of the Arno shimmers as a canottiere rows under the Ponte Vecchio’s left arch, dispersing its reflection on the water.
I enjoy standing in this spot to admire the details of this vista. The faded yellow paint outside the Corridoio Vasariano seems dull next to the pastel-colored sections with their gray, green, and brown shutters. Even though the shapes and colors seem mismatched, the Ponte Vecchio radiates harmony.
As the sun sets on the other side of the bridge, it casts a pale orange color onto the water. I gasp when the lights flicker, illuminating the entire view. The golden light from the lampposts enhances everything under the cloudless sky. A young child grazes me as he saunters by: the narrow sidewalk is hardly wide enough for one person, much less two.
When I step into the road to walk home, a car whizzes past me on the uneven stone pavement. Even though cars now drive away from the Ponte Vecchio instead of toward it, I keep thinking it’s the wrong way. It doesn’t help that bicycles zip by in both directions.
I look over my shoulder when I reach the terrace next to the Uffizi to take in the view of the Ponte Vecchio and tuck it in my heart.
Fontana delle Rampe del Poggi — November 16, 2020After perusing the Giardino delle Rose, I exited the gardens and strolled up Viale Giuseppe Poggi. A taxi zipped past me as I walked along the edge of the road. I had no idea where I was heading, but stopped next to the railing of the Fontana delle Rampe del Poggi. The steady flow of water cascading down the fountain infused me with tranquility. First my shoulders dropped, then my face relaxed. With my hands in my down jacket’s pockets, I breathed in the crisp air brushing past me.
My eyes swept the horizon from Ponte Vecchio to the Basilica di Santa Croce. I smiled when I saw the hills around Fiesole glowing brightly in the distance. As the sun tucked itself behind a long streak of clouds to the west, the pastel-colored buildings became quite somber.
The moment the sun burst through a sliver in the sky, I perked up. A golden light spread across the clouds and shined on the city, spotlighting the Duomo and Santa Croce. I backed up a few steps onto the winding road to take a few photos as the sky brightened up to a warm pink. However, within a few seconds, the sun dipped farther to the south, muting the surrounding colors once again.
After taking one last glance at the vista, I made my way back to the Giardino delle Rose. Standing on the stone path next to the persimmon tree, I admired the colorful roses on leafless branches stretching up to the sky. I inhaled the scent of the bright green grass, which invigorated me. One couple sitting on a wooden bench giggled while birds hiding in tall cypress trees chirped.
When the gardener marched down the gravel path toward me, I looked up at the Duomo and made a beeline for the gate at the bottom of the garden.
The view of Florence from the Giardino delle Rose, the Fontana, and the Piazzale Michelangiolo differ only slightly; however, each spot adds to the city’s beauty by framing it in its own unique way.
Ponte Santa Trinita — November 22, 2020Last Saturday, I rushed to Ponte Santa Trinita to watch the sunset. I admired the shop lights reflected on the sidewalk as I strolled along via dei Neri through Piazza della Signoria to reach via Por Santa Maria. I stretched my shoulders back as I turned the corner of Lungarno degli Acciaioli. The sun glowed behind a veil of clouds as I sauntered in the middle of the pedestrian street next to the red brick wall above the Arno, smiling at each of the lampposts pointing up to the sky.
As soon as I reached Ponte Santa Trinita, I sat down on the stone wall and twisted my body to one side to face west. I delighted in the riverscape’s expansiveness. The tall buildings along narrow streets no longer hindered my view of the sky. I scanned the bridge and noticed two girls chatting to each other next to me and one woman sitting on the other side of the bridge. People marched past her, but didn’t disrupt her gaze.
As the cool air drifted past me, I inhaled the fresh scent of the river, smiled at the pastel colors in the sky, and listened to the church bells ringing. I followed the sun as it inched its way down the sky while a few clouds staggered across the horizon.
One woman startled me when she passed behind me. “Non è tanto eccezionale stasera.” Her words didn’t surprise me because some people only glance at the sunset unless the colors are vibrant. She turned her gaze forward and continued on to Piazza Santa Trinita.
I leapt up when a canottiere popped out from under the bridge. I watched him row down to Ponte alla Carraia and loop back toward me. I took a few photos of him as the golden sun kissed the buildings along the Arno. I gasped when a seagull swooped less than a meter above my head and then soared up to the clouds.
I love how Mother Nature embraces Florence with the sun and moon, the glistening water in the river, the surrounding hills, the greenery sprinkled along the riverbed, and the clouds shapeshifting in the sky. It’s impossible for me to see Florence separate from her natural environment. In fact, she is even more enchanting because of it.
Piazza Santa Trinita — November 25, 2020The sound of the San Remigio’s bells reverberated off the walls as I walked up via dei Neri. The sun had already set, and the pale blue sky was becoming darker by the minute. As soon as I reached via della Ninna, I zipped up my jacket. I slowed down when I heard the soft echo of the water flowing in the Fontana di Nettuno. Two police officers stood in front of the wooden doors of the Palazzo Vecchio, surveying Piazza della Signoria.
When I turned the corner of Piazzale degli Uffizi, I lurched backward. The vastness of the unlit piazza surprised me. I hurried down via Lambertesca where streetlamps lit up the street and cast gloomy shadows at the tops of the buildings. I glanced at the Ponte Vecchio when I crossed via Por Santa Maria. The clacking of a young woman’s heels on the uneven stones echoed in Borgo Santi Apostoli as I marched down the winding road.
When I reached Piazza Santa Trinita, I gasped. Bright lights strung across the piazza shimmered under the royal blue sky. Couples of all ages strolled hand in hand, one woman pushing a stroller pointed up to the lights, and one young man filmed via de’ Tornabuoni with his phone. Everyone who was admiring the decorations did so with a grin on their face. It was impossible not to feel the joy swirling around us.
With my head tilted back, I circled the Colonna della Giustizia a few times. I couldn’t help but smile at the illuminations twinkling under a starless sky. I dug my hands even deeper into my jacket’s pockets to prevent the wind from seeping through every time I paused.
When I was too cold to keep taking photos, I hurried back up Borgo Santi Apostoli. The tall buildings on both sides of the street protected me from the crisp air. A smile spread across my face every time I thought about how the illuminated streets warmed my heart. By the time I returned to via dei Neri, the sky was pitch black. They haven’t come yet to install the lights, but soon they will arrive.
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