Enjoying the gifts of summer

At the onset of summer, I took strolls along the Arno and walks through Giardino delle Rose and Giardino Bardini. Florence led me to places where I could experience more beauty. These brief moments infused me with a warm tranquility in my heart. When I returned home, I felt inspired to live my life more fully by taking more breaks to enjoy my surroundings.

Living in Florence :: Enjoying the gifts of summer

Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli  — May 19, 2023
After lunch, I walked through the Piazzale degli Uffizi and strolled up the Arno. The air smelled of rain about to fall. After crossing the river, I continued up Lungarno Guicciardini, crossed Ponte alla Carraia, and headed back.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli

As huge swirls of gray prevented the sun from sharing its light, swallows flew this way and that above the river. I stood next to a lamppost and propped my elbows on the brick wall to cup my face in my hands. The wind came in bursts, tossing my hair about and escorting the clouds across the sky at a steady pace.

People strolled along Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli, where tables were lined up on the sidewalk and cars inched by. Their voices crescendoed and then faded into the distance. I glimpsed them, but focused on a sliver of the riverscape that delighted me the most.

The gloomy skies highlighted the pastel buildings, the swirling murky water, and the tall green grass along the riverbank.

I breathed in the cool scent of the Arno with a hint of damp soil and lush vegetation. I remained immobile to feel at one with my surroundings is pure bliss.

When a group of teenagers paused alongside me, I stepped off the sidewalk and continued on my walk. I ducked under the Corridoio Vasariano as the air became misty.

Giardino delle Rose — May 25, 2023
Upon reaching the top of the Giardino delle Rose, I was drawn to the pergola where white Lady Banks’ roses emanated their love. I sat on the low stone barrier and planted my feet on the dirt pathway. The smooth fragrance of the tiny roses lulled me to luxuriate in my shady spot.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Giardino delle Rose

Dainty butterflies twirled around the rose bushes on the grassy area while a female blackbird pecked at the grass. Birds chirped from the trees while the hum of traffic wafted in and out of the gardens. A burgundy dragonfly zipped by me twice before disappearing. 

A few people arrived, searching for Piazzale Michelangiolo, without paying attention to the greenery. Two men in button-down shirts paused to sniff the roses crawling up the pergola. They looked at each other and sighed before continuing their trek through the garden. The scent of balmy roses and grass enveloped me.

I remained in my reverie while pillowy clouds staggered across the sky. A wave of gratitude came over me as Mother Nature exalted Florence’s splendor.

Each gong of San Miniato al Monte’s bells lulled me to relax even more and revel in the gentle breeze fluttering by. My gaze focused on the olive and cypress trees just beyond the confines of the rose garden, as if to soak up more tranquility.

When I got up to leave, I approached the roses and drew in their sweet elixir. I smelled them around me even as I continued to the exit.

Giardino Bardini — June 4, 2023
Even though the forecast was grim, the bright skies were filled with bubbly clouds. The sun’s bold rays warmed up the morning air.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Giardino Bardini

Upon entering Giardino Bardini, I hiked up the wide gravel paths. A variety of birdsong accompanied me on my journey through the alleys, lined by tall hedges, and the staircase through the manicured gardens. The intense scent of the greenery lightened my step. It wasn’t necessary to approach the roses; their perfume encircled me.

I slowed down my pace while passing through the leafy pergola. The Duomo and Santa Croce protruded the sea of palazzi like hills in a valley. After glimpsing the terrace full of people sitting at tables to mingle and absorb the atmosphere, I rounded the corner and walked through the olive grove.

The olive trees resembled statues sculpted by Mother Nature. While wading through the tall grass, pigeons circled overhead, almost touching the clouds. Solitary butterflies danced around, sometimes joining with another one and twirling together.

When the sun hid behind gray clouds with silvery edges, I descended the dirt path to exit the gardens. After the Campanile di Giotto sounded, Santa Croce joined in and then San Miniato al Monte. After they stopped, their echo whispered for a few more moments.

Giardino Bardini — June 19, 2023
Swallows were zigzagging past my windows when I headed outside. While crossing Ponte alle Grazie, I decided to go to Giardino Bardini to set the tone for my week.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Giardino Bardini

Making my way up the dirt paths covered in gray and tan pebbles, I spotted a hummingbird moth dipping its beak into tiny mauve flowers. More roses below the fruit orchard had blossomed, but the harsh rays of sun had dried up their petal’s edges.

It wasn’t until I reached the pergola that I encountered other visitors. The lush wisteria vines welcomed purple blossoms surrounded by countless dangling pods. With little fanfare, only a handful of people photographed them. Their perfume was faint, but delicious just the same.

I felt drawn to the olive grove to immerse myself in nature. A wood pigeon flashed her white belly as she landed next to the chestnut tree. After the church bells rang, I navigated the narrow pathways bordered by laurel bushes. I paused to say hello to the two koi fishes near the fountain in the canale del drago (dragon canal).

The sun was warming up the cool air that drifted through the gardens. Upon arriving on the gravel terrace alongside the villa, I sat on a weathered wooden bench, half in the sun and half in the shade. Three friends stopped along the wrought iron barrier to take pictures and then left.

Moments before the noon bells rang, the gardens appeared empty. Even the gardeners went on their lunch break. I stood at the edge of the terrace and breathed in the view. The Campanile di Giotto chimed first, followed by Santa Croce’s bell tower. In the garden, crickets chattered while blackbirds and chaffinches sang.

Though summer has yet to come, Florence has already welcomed the new season.

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