Ending the year with grace

December was a month of sheer magic. From the slick sidewalks, along Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli to the quiet moment on Ponte Vecchio, the bright skies above Santo Spirito, the wintry sunset above the Arno, to the glistening holiday lights in Piazza Santa Trinita. As we say goodbye to 2023, may this new year bring us all much love and light in our hearts and our surroundings.

Living in Florence :: Ending the year with grace

December 8, 2023 — Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli
After the rain had subsided, I headed outside for a walk. With every step along the Arno, I inhaled the chilly air and peeked over the brick wall.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli

Above the San Frediano in Cestello, the clouds had parted, unveiling a welcomed snippet of pale blue.

Seagulls glided below the wispy clouds while pigeons pecked at the slick sidewalks. I followed behind a few stragglers ambling along Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli. Before arriving at Ponte Santa Trinita, I leaned over the wall to scan the view. The swirling beige water staggered to the west, taking tree branches toward the sea.

The skies cleared and showered the city with sunshine. If the temperatures had been warmer, I would have stayed much longer.

December 16, 2023 — Ponte Vecchio
After morning showers, the skies remained cloudy. I headed outside in the afternoon to bask in the quieter than usual streets.

I zigzagged through the narrow lanes and arrived on Via Por Santa Maria. Faint holiday lights draped across the Ponte Vecchio beckoned me to appreciate them up close. The shop windows emanated a warm glow on the faces of the passersby while the cool air wove its way around us.

When I reached the middle, I settled along the barrier and faced east to admire Ponte alle Grazie. Afterwards, I paused below the Corridoio Vasariano and looked toward the west. Cellini, with his intense gaze, stood amid the wandering crowds that glanced at him before basking in the view of the Arno.

At a certain point, the solitary monument was flanked by two couples. I snapped a photo only seconds before a small group passed in front of me.

The holiday season is gaining momentum, with more visitors returning to Florence each day. When I capture a tranquil scenery, it always strengthens my connection to Florence’s true essence.

December 18 — Santo Spirito
The noon bells were chiming as I walked down the river. The sun was low and bright. Making my way through the crowds, I arrived alongside Ponte Vecchio. Afterwards, the street felt wider. All the tables on the hotel terrace were full. People admired the goings-on through sunglasses.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Santo Spirito

I crossed Ponte Santa Trinita, looking at the Ponte Vecchio on my left and then Ponte alla Carraia on my right.

I wove through a few narrow streets and hiked up the steps to enter the Basilica di Santo Spirito. The moment I placed my foot on the terracotta floor, my shoulders dropped and I let out a deep sigh.

It had been months since I visited this Renaissance church. Candles flickered on the candelabras before many of the chapels. As per usual, I lit two: one for the love I receive and one for the love I give.

After perusing the artwork, I sat down to contemplate. When I first arrived in Florence, I found great solace in Santo Spirito. I would sit on a wooden pew and write. It felt as if I were confiding in a friend. No matter what was going on, I would exit lighthearted and clearheaded. Today was the same.

Before exiting, I visited Michelangelo’s Crocifisso. With the masterpiece suspended in the middle of the circular room, I walked around it to admire it from all angles. I was fortunate to do so alone and in complete silence.

Once outside, I circled the piazza and breathe in my surroundings. When I saw the facciata of the basilica illuminated by the sun, I paused. With people walking toward me, I pulled out my iPhone and snapped this photo.

What I love about this piazza is how casual it feels, as if it welcomes everyone from everywhere. And how the basilica is an integral part of the square, but does not demand more attention. Its magnificence resides inside, just like how ours resides inside our hearts.

December 23, 2023 — Lungarno Cellini
Just the day before, I had walked to Ponte Santa Trinita to watch the sunset. I stood on the bridge for a half hour, but with no clouds, the sunset was with little fanfare.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Lungarno Cellini

The next day, when I was walking through Piazza Ferrucci, I glimpsed an array of pastel colors streaked across the hazy sky.

When I reached the low brick barrier above the Arno, I stood under the leafless trees and soaked up the sunset. The chilly wind was both soothing and invigorating. At almost 5 p.m., I was surprised the sidewalk was completely empty. No pedestrians and no bikes.

As the sun continued to set, it left behind a trail of colorful brushstrokes across the wispy clouds. My eyes fixated on the riverscape with the Duomo peering above the low buildings. I headed home when the sky turned gray. By the time I arrived at Ponte alle Grazie, the deep blue skies welcomed a crescent moon.

December 25, 2023 — Colonna della Giustizia
After the sun dipped behind the southwestern hills, I walked from Ponte Santa Trinita toward Via de’ Tornabuoni. The pedestrian street glowed as visitors admired the multitude of golden lights strung from the palazzi on both sides.

Living in Florence, Italy :: Colonna della Giustizia

At the corner of Via del Parione, I stood. My heart expanded with delight as everyone’s good cheer swirled around the piazza. Couples and families posed in front of the holiday decorations and snapped photos of their time in Florence.

My gaze rose to the top of the Colonna della Giustizia. A sense of tranquility enveloped me. With the royal blue sky behind her and the golden lights twinkling, I captured a moment to cherish well after the festive season ends.

The weeks my beloved city is illuminated are spectacular. The city celebrates not only the holidays, but also itself. When we spotlight the monuments, we receive an opportunity to take notice and appreciate them.

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