Appreciating Florence every day

For the past few weeks, spring has dropped more hints of its arrival. I delighted in many special moments: catching a sunrise in Piazza San Giovanni, paying homage to Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici in Palazzo Vecchio, relishing the panorama from San Miniato al Monte, and enjoying a stroll around Giardino Bardini.

Living in Florence :: Appreciating Florence every day

Piazza San Giovanni — February 17, 2023
I navigated Via Calzaiuoli at dawn. My mood became melancholic as I passed the darkened shops and cafés. Only a handful of pedestrians roamed the shadowy streets. It wasn’t clear if they were starting their day or ending it. One taxi cruised past me with two wide-eyed tourists in the backseat. The sound of the car’s tires rumbling along the uneven road brought the city back to life.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Piazza San Giovanni

When I stepped foot in Piazza San Giovanni, I let out a weary sigh. As I stood alone in between the Duomo and the Campanile di Giotto, my body tingled with joy. With soft steps, I circled the baptistery and stopped at the corner of Borgo San Lorenzo. The streetlights radiated a golden cloud of light. The moon was glowing overhead while the sun was making its debut.

With every breath, the dark blue skies faded while varying shades of pink and purple emerged above the skyline. A bicyclist sped past me, kicking up a wintry breeze that made my scarf flutter.

While scanning my surroundings, my gaze kept returning to the cathedral’s illuminated façade. It seemed even more grandiose in the barren piazza, slightly hidden by the Battistero and just beyond the Colonna di San Zanobi.

Before walking up Via de’ Cerretani, I looked back at the Duomo, embraced by buildings on both sides. I bid farewell to the cathedral while saying hello to a new day.

Palazzo Vecchio — February 24, 2023
On the anniversary of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici’s death, a notable statue of her was moved to the Palazzo Vecchio’s Cortile della Dogana. For years, it sat behind the Basilica di San Lorenzo enclosed by a wrought-iron fence. When I was on my way to the Mercato Centrale, I would pause to salute her. Before arriving in its new home, the statue was in the church’s basement.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Palazzo Vecchio

When the Electress Palatine died, she gave Florence new life. By entrusting her family’s treasures to the city and its people, she prevented them from being removed from their birthplace. Now, Florence’s spirit remains integral so we can admire the many masterpieces and experience the centro storico’s creative energy.

The cradle of the Renaissance inspires us to appreciate the beauty around us and to nurture more of it in our own lives.

In recent years, I’ve practiced being more present with her. Not only has she delighted me her poetic magnificence and infused me with harmony, she has also gifted me with love.

Nowadays, I can walk through Palazzo Vecchio, which is a few blocks from my home, to thank the Mother of Florence for her boundless love.

San Miniato al Monte — March 4, 2023
My heart was thumping in my chest after passing through the Porta San Miniato and up the incline. Upon entering the Giardino delle Rose, I relaxed my shoulders to inhale the crisp air that welcomed me. I savored the rich smell of the fertile soil, dry leaves, and green grass. I continued up the path, stepping on the stone slabs framed by tall blades of grass.

Living in Florence, Italy :: San Miniato al Monte

When I reached the fountain, I turned around. Instead of admiring the Duomo dominating the panorama, I found a large crane just beyond the garden walls. I remained for a few moments, delighting in the sound of the water trickling into the pond.

I navigated the grassy area to look at the tiny leaves sprouting from the pruned rosebushes’s bare branches. Still no sign of a rosebud, but soon they will show up.

Wispy and pillowy white clouds drifted across the blue sky as I ventured up to the Piazzale Michelangiolo. Gusts of wind cooled down the warmth of the sun. My fingers were cold to the touch, but my body was warm under multiple layers of cotton, wool, and down. Dog walkers, joggers, and a few tourists roamed around the piazzale, holding on to their coats.

After hearing San Miniato al Monte’s bells chime, I walked to the tree-lined avenue to reach the basilica. I planted myself along the border of the terrace. With the centro storico before me, I sniffed the air with its hint of cypress and marble and basked in the view.

When I closed my eyes, my beloved city embraced me. Her energy tranquilized my mind and appeased my heart. Upon opening my eyes, two pigeons flew toward me.

While crossing Ponte alle Grazie, I paused at the bridge’s railing. When I spotted San Miniato al Monte, I exhaled.

Giardino Bardini — March 19, 2023
A choir of birds welcomed me as I walked up the stone path in Giardino Bardini. Regardless of the large clouds staggering across the pale sky, there were hints of spring everywhere. Tiny daisies were smiling at the sun while rose bushes were flaunting their thorny branches and new leaves.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Giardino Bardini

On my walk up to the top of the gardens, I discovered dainty periwinkles nestled at the base of the laurel shrubs. Each one was like a hidden treasure.

Different church bells around town whispered while the birds chirped. When the winds kicked up, the branches swayed, and the leaves fluttered. A robin traversed the pergola and perched itself on a twisted wisteria branch. The hydrangeas lining the gravel path flaunted clusters of lime green leaves in the shape of flower blossoms. 

Near the back stone wall, I meandered around the camellia bushes. The thick leaves framed the vibrant flowers and tiny buds on the verge of blossoming.

When the clouds parted, the sun’s powerful rays made spring feel a little closer. I pointed my face toward the sun, hoping to warm up my entire body. Voices drifted through the garden, but I didn’t see anyone. 

As I traipsed through an aisle of olive trees, I stepped around plump olives and broken chestnuts strewn across the tall blades of grass. The tiny fuchsia roses added color to the otherwise green pasture. A group of pigeons took off as I approached them. A woodpecker drummed on a chestnut’s trunk while blue tits, chaffinches, and sparrows pecked at the ground, looking for food.

Between the branches of an olive tree, I sighted the Duomo whose sun-kissed cupola emanated her love throughout the city.

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