Life is about appreciating the time we have. Almost every day, I take a moment to commune with Florence. Uniting with Mother Nature, she permeates me with her love, embraces me with her energy, and delights me with unexpected sunsets, spectacular views, and bright blue skies at nightfall. Together they create magic; together spread love.
In these anecdotes, I enjoyed drinking in Florence’s buildings, bridges, monuments, river, panoramas, and radiant skies. With every breath, I dove even deeper into her beauty and perceived it in my heart.
Ponte Vecchio — March 22, 2021The moment I arrive in the middle of the Ponte Vecchio, I snap a photo of Cellini. The bronze statue is even more stunning, framed by the buildings along both sides of the Arno and the colorful streaks on the pale sky.
I find a quiet spot under the Corridoio Vasariano next to the fountain to watch the end of the sunset. People saunter across the Ponte Vecchio as if they have an abundance of time. A few bicyclists walk their bike while others weave through the crowds, surprising a few people inadvertently. Dogs tug at their leashes to get acquainted with other dogs while their owners negotiate. I prop myself against the bridge’s limestone wall and breathe in the chilly air infused with the Arno’s crisp scent. I say goodbye to the wispy clouds, becoming darker as they head south.
The royal blue sky becomes almost black within a few minutes. When the streetlights turn on, I raise my eyebrows in surprise. They cast a golden glow around me and illuminate the wooden doors of the closed shops. My body relaxes as the crowds thin out and their hushed voices become more of a murmur. A couple next to me remain in a warm embrace, indifferent to the goings-on.
I swivel myself around to look toward Ponte alle Grazie. The cool breeze flings my hair over my shoulders. I delight in the sky and the river becoming one, united by the same color, and the streetlights glistening on the water.
After I listen to the seven o’clock church bells whisper, I make my way home. With my hands deep in my pockets, I smile at the top of the Duomo. I pass under the Corridoio Vasariano where voices echo. At every opening, I stare at the Ponte Vecchio, seeing more of it become visible.
When I reach the sidewalk across from the Uffizi, I face the Ponte Vecchio. Spotlights illuminate the shops on the bridge from all angles and make the water sparkle. The streetlamps set the Lungarno Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici aglow and fill me with glee.
Piazzale degli Uffizi — March 25, 2021This afternoon, I strolled along Lungarno Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, stopping once to peek at the Ponte Vecchio, then passed through the Piazzale degli Uffizi to stand in front of Dante. My heart expanded as I admired Dante. I normally admire him in Piazza Santa Croce, but I wanted to see him with the Duomo peeking over the buildings on my left and the Arno flowing on my right. I felt the city come alive with his words dancing in my head.
“La bellezza si risveglia l’anima di agire. (Beauty awakens the soul to act.)” — Dante Alighieri
Lungarno Corsini — March 27, 2021Strolling down the lungarno, I smile at the couples straddling the brick wall sitting face to face, a man leaning against a lamppost reading his cellphone, and groups of friends huddled together chatting. The sky above the Ponte Vecchio is dim as clouds drift in front of the sun.
Cars rattle along the stone road, becoming loud and then fading after they pass me while I stroll under the Corridoio Vasariano. It’s so quiet that I can hear my footsteps echo under the archway. Two teenage girls shuffle around me with their half-eaten cups of gelato in one hand and a fluorescent plastic spoon in the other.
I take in a deep breath after walking past the Ponte Vecchio. The Lungarno degli Acciaioli’s expansive view always inspires me to slow down. I unzip my jacket to welcome the cool air brushing past me and sniff its mellow scent of spring.
Before positioning myself in the middle of Ponte Santa Trinita, I stand on the cement divider of the bike lane along Lungarno Corsini. The sun glows in the sky, infusing the clouds with warmth. I focus on the view of San Frediano in Cestello through my iPhone’s screen. I take a photo after a woman pushing a stroller and two kids racing their bikes move out of the way.
The view of the river appeases my heart. Tension eases out of my body with each breath. As a black car careens toward me, I hop onto the sidewalk. I follow the pavement as it curves under Estate and stand in my favorite spot on the bridge. A brisk breeze tosses my scarf in front of me as I set my eyes on Ponte alla Carraia. I sigh when I see how the sun caresses the Arno, leaving gentle ripples in its wake.
Leaning my legs against the bridge’s limestone stone, canottieri row back and forth, slicing right through the pristine reflections on the water. The sun sets early behind a thick layer of clouds, dimming the light and cooling off the air. After listening to Santo Spirito’s bells chime, I blow a kiss to the west.
Ponte Santa Trinita — March 29, 2021My knuckles rest gently on Ponte Santa Trinita’s limestone barrier as I face the Ponte Vecchio. Cool bursts of wind bring with it the scent of the blue water while a murmur of voices, speaking different languages, swirls around me.
As I cast my eyes on the riverscape, I admire how the Ponte Vecchio unites the two riverbanks. The bridge creates a harmonious link between the strips of pastel-colored buildings lined up along each side of the river. The dreamy blue sky and water join above and below the Ponte Vecchio. As the grayish clouds stagger north, the almost full moon glimmers. One never-ending cloud stretches across the sky, casting a shadow over it for a moment, although not long enough to hinder the water from catching its light and reflecting it back.
For a few moments, I watch in amazement as two bats zigzag in front of me while a gray heron soars overhead. A woman rushing up next to me startles me. She plops her handbag onto the barrier and takes a few photos with her phone. I look down each side of the bridge and notice that only a few people are taking pictures of this spectacular view. Everyone else is chatting while glimpsing the passersby as they would in a piazza.
I enjoy the sound of scooters clattering and cars putt-putting on the stony road behind me. What catches my attention is a suitcase rattling on the sidewalk, getting louder as it approaches me. I smile at the young woman who seems determined on arriving at her destination. She doesn’t look right or left, missing an opportunity to admire the Ponte Vecchio with the bright moon above it.
I snap a few photos while the moon glows unhindered by the clouds. Its mirror image shimmering on the water makes me sigh. I take in a few deep breaths to hold on to this moment a little longer. After I watch the moon stagger higher into the ever darkening sky, I traipse along the lungarno and smile at the Ponte Vecchio.
San Miniato al Monte — April 2, 2021As I march up the steps toward San Miniato al Monte, I keep my eyes on the golden mosaic at the center of the façade. The warm smell of spring encircles me. Hopping onto the basilica’s stony terrace, I let out a long sigh. Only a handful of people sit on the wooden benches, admiring Florence.
I position myself next to the low wall and face the panorama. The city below is a whisper, even though cars trickle along the winding road below the basilica. The Duomo dominates the valley as if it had always existed. As if Florence couldn’t exist without it. A blackbird perched on an olive branch permeates the stillness with her sweet melody. I feel the gentle embrace of the hills and mountains on the periphery of Florence.
My eyes follow the stone wall, leading through an olive grove up to Forte Belvedere. The sun-faded colors of the buildings harmonize together under terracotta rooftops similar to the cupola. I smile at the long tree branches swaying in the wind as if hailing this beloved city.
When the basilica’s bells ring, I close my eyes. I inhale and feel Florence through my other senses. When I give her my attention, she infuses me with love. After they grow silent, I follow the cobblestone path behind the basilica to navigate the Cimitero delle Porte Sante. A choir of birds sings from the tall cypress trees. Names, dates, and a few black and white photos on the weathered tombstones pique my interest.
My steps crunch on the gravel as I weave between the large sections of gravestones. A white and tan cat scurrying past me to lounge against a marble marker surprises me. I stop in front of an angel with a star on her head, standing on top of a tombstone and holding flowers. Catching a whiff of rosemary, a tiny purple butterfly flutters around me. My heart melts when I spot the colorful wreath someone left behind. It makes me think about how one way to honor life is by honoring death.
I navigate the cemetery until the bells ring again. When I reach the front of the basilica. I stretch my shoulders back and breathe Florence into my heart.
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