Reveling in the details

Spring is is a time to bask in nature and relish in Mother Nature’s gifts. Over the past few weeks, unexpected spurts of rain passed through the city to nourish the earth. The shrubs, flowers, and trees around Florence flourished. In the Giardino dell’Iris, the Giardino di Boboli, and the Giardino Bardini, colorful blossoms filled the air with their delightful scent and emanated joy. One day, as I approached the Ponte alle Grazie, I paused along the lungarno to admire a tranquil view of San Niccolò. This season nudges me to dive deeper into my surroundings and appreciate the transformations occurring daily.

Living in Florence :: Reveling in the details

Giardino dell’Iris — May 8, 2021
I began and ended the week with a stroll through the Giardino delle’Iris. On Monday, the sunshine warmed up the air and radiated from inside the irises. On Friday, the diffused sunlight showed off the richness of the iris’ color, allowing me to enjoy their intricate details.

Navigating the misshapen stones on the path, I meandered around the visitors. More had blossomed since my first stroll through the garden. Leaning closer to them, I examined the shapes of their petals and their flamboyant colors. I dipped my nose in a few of them to appreciate them even more. Each one had a distinct and delightful perfume that I found intoxicating. More than once, I sniffed it a second time to soak up its scent and memorize it in my heart.

After walking down to the pond where yellow irises poked out of the water, I stopped after reaching a section where gnarly branched olive trees stood behind a field of colorful flowers. The mix delighted me because of how irises (representing Florence) grow in Tuscany (represented by the olive trees).

I sought solace on a bench under an olive tree, facing a row of purple irises where a dainty butterfly flopped above them. Birds chirped from the swaying branches of the tall trees flanking the garden. The faint sound of a musician in Piazzale Michelangiolo playing a trumpet wafted around me.

Robust gusts of wind made the sunlight flicker, reminding me how unpredictable the weather is. Immense shadows cast by the clouds grazed the cypress trees blanketing the hills of Fiesole.

When I arrived near the exit, my heart sank. I asked a woman at the entrance if I could revisit the garden. As soon as she nodded her head, I squeezed between the fence and a bush. I basked in the silence as I breathed in the splendor of the irises.

After making my way back to the exit, the church bells echoed. My heart bounced in my chest as I scanned the fields of colorful irises nestled between the olive trees. 

Unlike other gardens where I seek views of Florence, from the Giardino dell’Iris I seek a deeper view of Florence. I immerse myself in her passionate and creative energy that gives birth to these masterpieces we enjoy through our senses.

Lungarno delle Grazie — May 14, 2021
As I walked down via de’ Benci, Santa Croce’s bells reverberated off the buildings before noon. Other bells chimed in only a few minutes later. The Duomo’s solemn gongs filled the air with reverence. At the intersection, I crossed Lungarno delle Grazie. My eyes followed the lampposts lined up along the brick wall to the right. In the distance, the Ponte Vecchio spanned the river.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Lungarno delle Grazie

Before I reached the sidewalk, I paused. For years, I’ve stood along this part of the Arno to watch sunrises and to revel in the riverscape. Whenever I see a bicycle parked near a lamppost, I smile. I don’t know why it brings me such joy, but it does.

With my hip resting against the barrier, I scanned the view. Water trickled over the weir below Ponte alle Grazie, setting the tone of the day. Calm and steady. Gentle puffs of wind passed by without disturbing the reflections on the Arno. A pigeon arrived next to me, wobbling down the sidewalk and pecking at the ground.

Along the meadow below Lungarno Serristori, nature has taken over. Beige-colored reeds fill in the gaps between the shrubs and trees. The mix of colors and textures reflected on the river filled me with tranquility. 

The statue of David in Piazzale Michelangiolo, hovering above the dark-leafed trees, caught my attention. My eyes grazed San Miniato al Monte’s facade and paused on the gold mosaic. I squinted to perceive the eagle atop the basilica, but couldn’t make out any details. That it stands above the city appeased me.

The pastel-colored palazzi across from me created a harmonious backdrop for the riverscape. Giardino Bardini’s lush grass, glowing under the gray skies, enticed me.

Time slows down when I notice more of my surroundings. I fall even deeper in love with my beloved city. To appreciate these moments in Florence’s embrace is to appreciate life.

Giardino di Boboli — May 21, 2021
When the sky released a sudden burst of rain this morning, I rushed to the window and watched it blur everything in sight. After the storm ended, I opened my windows as the noon bells chimed from the different churches around town. The cool breeze escorted the dark clouds across the sky, unveiling pockets of blue, prompting me to head outside.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Giardino di Boboli

After rushing down the lungarno and crossing the Ponte Vecchio, I hiked up the paved piazza to Palazzo Pitti. The thrill of returning to the Giardino di Boboli zipped through me. 

I crossed the courtyard and darted up the wide steps. The sweet perfume of cypress trees and lush grass enveloped me. I smiled at the Duomo peeking out from above the top of the incline and strolled past the amphitheater along the gravel path. When I arrived at the Limonaia, the scent of colorful flowers, damp soil, and fresh leaves twirled in the air. As I navigated the maze-like paths, I relished in the perfume of the roses and irises bursting with life. 

The church bells whispered as I walked down the pathways lined with cypresses. Bright green parrots chirped from atop the plane and linden trees. Fallen leaves and broken branches crunched under my feet. When I stopped in the middle, I could feel the warmth of tranquility envelop me.

I continued to roam around the intricate paths of the garden, where meticulously trimmed hedges hovered above me. When I marched up to the pale green Kaffehaus, I paused. A group of teenagers sat on the grass and a couple walked down the stone steps. As I breathed in the Duomo, the Campanile, and San Lorenzo just beyond the garden, my heart softened. Every detail rendered the view even more spectacular: the tiny daisies in the lawn, the spiraling staircase, the leafy trees and bushes, and the sky aglow with clouds.

When I exited the gardens, I sniffed the air and detected a hint of sulphur. The clouds appeared darker than they were earlier. People rushed down via Guicciardini as I ambled my way home. Within a few minutes of entering my apartment, the sky rumbled and unleashed more rain.

Giarino Bardini — May 27, 2021
My heart raced as I hiked up the incline upon entering Giardino Bardini. The sweet scent of lush grass, green leaves, and fertile soil welcomed me. The tall trees and voluminous bushes bordering the dirt path enveloped me with their warmth. 

Living in Florence, Italy :: Giardino Bardini

The perfume from pink, orange, fuchsia, and white roses filled the air as their delicate petals sprinkled bursts of color along the stone wall. The mellow breeze felt smooth against my skin.

As I leaned into an open rose to enjoy her scent, a gecko rushed along the wall. It headed into the tall grass around the apple, plum, and pear trees in the orchard.

Before walking under the pergola, I stood in the shade. The expansive view of the city nestled between a hedge and an oak tree filled me with serenity. Two lilies unfurled their leaves and petals out of the earth, demonstrating how nature flourishes in spring.

Marching up the path under the pergola infused me with serenity. With each step, my foot sank into the gravel and made a soft crunching sound. Only a short while ago, pink and purple wisteria flowers blanketed the pergola. Now, the green leaves radiated the sunlight. A rustling in the bushes grabbed my attention. A brown squirrel, nibbling on a nut, scampered across the pergola and hid under the vines.

I made my way through the olive grove where the scent of freshly cut grass tickled my nose. Tiny pink rosebuds basked in the sunlight.

Circling the olive trees, I admired how their branches twisted and turned in all directions, yet always reached for the sky. New leaves had sprouted, and its overripe fruits wafted in the wind. 

As I strolled toward the terrace below the restaurant, I paused. One couple relaxed on the grass, staring at the sky, while another couple sat on a wooden bench facing the pergola. The view of the Duomo melted my heart. A warm puff of air drifted past me as the sun shined through the voluptuous clouds, setting the cupola aglow. 

After I visited the rest of the gardens, I returned to this spot. To witness Mother Nature bring Florence to life is a gift.

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