Living in Florence :: Appreciating moments filled with beauty

Over the past few weeks as I perused my beloved city, I experienced many sweet moments to immerse myself in the beauty offered to me. Sometimes I went to the gardens where I was certain to find beauty, but sometimes beauty found me like when I caught the sunset from Ponte alle Grazie. 

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Living in Florence :: Exploring Florence through the senses

During the past few weeks, small groups and families dined on restaurant terraces, people ambled through many of the piazzas and streets in the historical center, tourists visited museums and churches, and scenic spots attracted people to watch the sunset. August is a quiet month in Florence when many businesses close for a few weeks. It’s the time of year when people prefer beaches and mountains over cities. But this year many Europeans flocked to Florence, hoping to visit it with fewer crowds.

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Living in Florence :: Being present to commune with Florence

The past couple of weeks, I went out for early morning strolls through Florence and romps in the gardens. I was also fortunate to have caught a stunning sunset after a rainstorm. When I walk around Florence, I make a point of communing with her. It is during these moments when I am aware of my surroundings that I can enjoy the beauty more and capture unique moments. Rarely do I search for a unique view because it is always different when I am more present in the moment.

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Living in Florence :: Seeking beauty through the eyes of my heart

As I roam around Florence, I enjoy letting my heart lead me in different directions. When a sight appeals to me, I pause for a moment to bask in it. I become as quiet as possible and allow my senses to capture the details of my surroundings. My photos and anecdotes are the keepsakes of these precious moments. However, the most significant souvenirs of these moments are the impressions they leave in my heart.

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Living in Florence :: Perceiving beauty is an act of love

Over the past few weeks, I hiked up to Piazzale Michelangiolo, strolled through the Giardino Bardini, visited Palazzo Pitti, caught a brilliant sunset from Lungarno Corsini, and delighted in seeing the moon alongside the Campanile. In my last post, I wrote about how Florence is an open museum, but also an open church. I don’t see Florence as a church in the religious sense, but as more of a sanctuary. A place where one finds respite and gains insight. Florence’s artwork, museums, bridges, gardens, river, and buildings inspire us to be present and see the beauty that is all around us. When we perceive the beauty at the center of every person, place, and thing, then we know love. 

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Living in Florence :: Delighting in Florence at a slower pace

When I stroll along the Arno, walk through the city streets, traverse the bridges, watch a sunset, or peruse the gardens, I make a concerted effort to slow down. When I hear the church bells ring, I pause. The sound reminds me to breathe and enjoy this magical moment. I revel in singular moments through my senses to engage more fully in the beauty around me.

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Living in Florence :: Appreciating Florence every day

This past week, I experienced my beloved city even more while she continues to awaken. A feeling of excitement fills the air as more of the museums, gardens, shops, and restaurants open and more people arrive to visit Florence. It was a joy for me to do and see more than I have been able to do in months. I felt a greater sense of appreciation while visiting monuments and gardens, walking around Florence, running up to Piazzale Michelangiolo, and watching a sunset.

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Living in Florence :: Experiencing Florence with more reverence

My visit to the Campanile di Giotto last Friday inspired me to write narratives to accompany my photos on Instagram. I can’t promise that I will write them for every photo, but I would like to share more of my experiences of Florence in this way. I feel much freer when I write the narrative for the photo I'm publishing on Instagram. Many times, I wrote a narrative for a photo, but postponed publishing it because I didn’t want to use the same photo. Unfortunately, the delay turned into my not publishing the narrative at all.

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Living in Florence :: Experiencing Florence anew

I have never experienced Florence as it has been these past few weeks. People stroll through the streets traversing the piazzas, along the Arno, and up to Piazzale Michelangiolo. Florence has not changed, but how we interact with her has changed. That hectic energy that buzzed throughout Florence before has vanished. The rhythm of the city is more natural: a gradual amping up and then a slowing down every day.

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Living in Florence :: The beginning of Florence’s reawakening

Maybe no one noticed that Florence—as well as many other cities—had lost its way. The lockdown woke us all up to give us a chance to rethink her future. For years, Florence was playing catch-up. She pleased others for short-term gain and in the process lost her soul. Every year, more visitors came, and the city made more adjustments to accommodate them. Apartments became hotels while artisans, bakeries, butchers, fishmongers, and green grocers disappeared. They installed ATMs in many restaurants, bars, and bottle shops. Pre-made sandwiches with wilted lettuce and tomato slices dangling out sat in glass cases for people to pick up as they walked by. Fast food was more popular than slow food. Visiting Florence seemed to be more of a race than a pleasurable jaunt. 

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Living in Florence :: Delighting in the Giardino dell’Iris

Every spring, I look forward to going to the Giardino dell’Iris. When they extended the lockdown to May 18, I wondered if the garden would remain closed this year. Fortunately, last week they announced that they would open the garden a few days earlier. Ever since the beginning of the month, I have made my way up to Piazzale Michelangiolo every day. After reaching the top, I always rushed to the railing above the Giardino dell’Iris to admire the irises. It amazed me how more irises had blossomed with each visit. 

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Living in Florence :: Florence slowly coming back to life

Last Friday was the first day that we were allowed to go out for a walk beyond the 200 meters defined shortly after we went under lockdown. It was cloudy and windy, but people came out to enjoy Florence. Families played frisbee in Piazza della Signoria where I stood to admire the water flowing in the Fontana di Nettuno and listen to the bells ringing at noon. It was a stark difference to just a few days before when I walked to my ortolano (greengrocer) in via dei Cerchi. On that day, only two people were walking through the piazza with their head down while two policemen stood outside of their car.

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Living in Florence :: Capturing every moment of joy

The times we are all living in are challenging and intense. This morning when I opened my windows and saw the blanket of gray clouds overhead, I smiled. Not because the sun might not make its appearance today, but because I am healthy and alive. In the past couple of days, however, the energy has shifted here in my area of Florence. It feels slightly more somber than before.

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Living in Florence :: Finding solace in isolation

Every morning, I wake up to the sound of the water flowing over the weir below Ponte alle Grazie. I used to only hear it only if I focused on it or in the wee hours of the night, rarely during the day like I do now. I welcome the sound of the church bells ringing every hour because they remind me that Florence is still spreading her love.

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Living in Florence :: Embracing the lockdown

The church bells chimed throughout the city this morning, calling parishioners to church. It’s a sweet reminder of what our daily life once was in Florence. The freedom to stroll through the streets and piazzas at any time has now been replaced with direct routes to buy necessities and return home. I can now calculate the time I spend outdoors in minutes per week instead of hours per day.

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