The year began with unpredictable weather: from clear blue skies to rain and from mild temperatures to colder ones. The streets filled up for the weekend and emptied during the week. Florence held me in her embrace and presented me with extraordinary moments that I captured in my heart.
Piazza Santo Spirito — January 6, 2023It wasn’t until the clouds dispersed and unveiled a pale blue sky, that I headed outside. When I arrived at the low brick wall above the Arno, I breathed in the crisp morning air. White seagulls and black cormorants flew over the river while one heron stood on the riverbank, peering into the pale green water.
Golden rays of sun peeked through the wispy clouds and caressed everyone and everything. I walked along the narrow sidewalk toward the Ponte Vecchio without a plan of where to go. My thin scarf swayed with every step as my open jacket flapped on my legs. It wasn’t until I reached Ponte Santa Trinita that I felt drawn to cross it.
When I arrived on the Oltrarno, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. Unable to contain my excitement, I rushed down Piazza dei Frescobaldi past the closed shops and made my way through the narrow streets to arrive alongside Santo Spirito.
Dog walkers circled the piazza while people huddled around outside tables to have breakfast. The mood was relaxed for the last holiday of the season: Epiphany.
I stood in the shady piazza to admire the basilica, which I fell in love with the first time I saw it. Its understated façade always inspires me. Today, it reminded me that beauty isn’t what we see; beauty is what we feel.
Ponte Santa Trinita — January 8, 2023The pristine reflection of the riverscape drew me in as I stood on Ponte Santa Trinita. The streetlights glimmered on the placid water as the sun departed for the day. A band of yellow, gradually becoming orange, stretched across the horizon and graced the Arno.
Even though locals and out-of-towners sashayed behind me, I felt alone to revel in the sunset. One person showed up alongside me, but I didn’t even turn my head.
A few moments later, I searched for the moon to the east. Above the Ponte Vecchio, the white Christmas tree in Piazzale Michelangiolo twinkled.
When I looked toward Ponte alla Carraia, a fish popped out of the water. It made no sound, but it created ripples on the water’s surface.
As the sky darkened to a deep blue, there were fewer passersby. The brisk wind didn’t inspire many to stand at the center of the bridge.
Winter sunsets are unpredictable. However, when the gloomy skies make way for the glow of the setting sun, it is pure magic. Such expressions of beauty not only soothe our hearts, they replenish our spirits.
Giardino Bardini — January 18, 2023The sky was a blanket of gray with a pale yellow rim when I entered Giardino Bardini. Odorless yellow jasmine blossoms added a splash of color to an otherwise dreary winter afternoon. As I passed through the pergola, gray clouds crept north, caressing Monte Morello. My gaze kept returning to the brightest point: the Duomo’s golden sphere.
I paused on the terrace to revel in the panorama. The terracotta rooftops of the churches, museums, and palazzi united Florence’s splendor, reminding me that every building is significant. The crowns of the dark green cypresses reached for the sky as leafless trees showed off their contorted branches.
Chilly gusts of wind from the countryside mixed with the garden’s greenery to create a relaxing mood. The crisp scent of hedges having just been trimmed gave me a feeling of joy and renewal.
The birds were silent, while the traffic echoed inside the confines of the garden.
The motionless air numbed my fingers as I meandered down the narrow paths where tiny sparrows dove into bushes as I approached. The birds didn’t chirp, but I could hear their wings flapping before landing on a tree branch.
Every visit to Giardino Bardini offers me new ways to receive Mother Nature’s love. Year round, she shares her bounty: orchestrating the clouds to glide across the sky, encouraging leaves to sprout, and producing buds that will delight us with their color.
Ponte Vecchio — January 21, 2023While strolling through Piazza San Giovanni, the skies grew dark and tiny specks of ice fell to the ground. I ducked into a restaurant for an impromptu lunch to wait for the storm to pass. When I exited an hour later, the sky had lightened up, and the rain had ceased. Instead of walking straight home, I headed to the Ponte Vecchio.
I walked past the Mercato del Porcellino, where one-third of the bancarelle (stands) were absent. Those present squeezed in closer together, allowing for a clearer view of the loggia.
With few pedestrians outside, I continued down Via Por Santa Maria. When I approached Lungarno Acciaiuoli, a brisk gust of wind made me clutch my scarf. I rushed to the low brick wall to bask in the empty street and expansive sky. The refreshing smell of slick limestones wafted in the air.
When I arrived alongside Cellini, I gazed at the patches of light blue peeking through the clouds. With every exhalation, I softened my shoulders.
Pedestrians crossed the Ponte Vecchio in both directions. Some peered into shop windows, while others sashayed by without pausing.
When I turned around, the sun illuminated the riverscape through the arches below the Corridoio Vasariano. One man rushed alongside me to take a video. I was so riveted by the view that I didn’t pull out my iPhone. Every detail was stunning: from the gleaming beige water to the wavy clouds overhead.
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