The Amazingness and the Sublime of a Magnificent City
It was one Sunday morning when I arrived in Florence by train from Bologna. Being my first trip to Italy, it was a must for me to see also the city of Florence. A city where two titans of the Renaissance were creating their masterpieces, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo.
With my heart filled with curiosity, I was set to start my exploration with no map, or any kind of direction, pretty much same as usually, and just let my instinct guide me on the streets. Pretty soon, though, my instinct told me “ Hold on Mirela! You are in Italy! Don`t you think that before doing anything you should begin your day with an Italian Gelato?“. I haven’t waited to hear it the second time and I was already drooling in front of a gelateria thinking which flavors should I pick. Because you see, there was a dilemma. There were so many flavors and I wanted to try them all, but frankly…I was wondering..“would I be able to eat them all..?”. I still think that I would have been able to do it. but I picked three, Frutti di Bosco, mandorle, and ciccolato.
Having the gelato, my heart desired I started wandering aimlessly on the streets of Florence. Of course, I knew that somewhere along the way I should find the cathedral, and I was thinking that it must be pretty big so I can’t miss it.
I haven’t proposed myself to visit museums but to walk the streets looking at every architectural detail and try to connect with a city which to me seemed to be so filled with mysteries, being the birthplace of Renaissance, and also the fact that the protector of the city Saint John the Baptist it is also the protector saint of the Templars ..
If I can think of any personality I could admire, Leonardo da Vinci would be by far the winner. A true Renaissance man, a fervent seeker of the knowledge, a genius, and a complete artist. Therefore, it seemed so normal to me to come to Florence and seek for the roots of Renaissance, but in the same time to walk on the footsteps of the man I admire the most..Leonardo.
This city of art and the sublime for me represented such a deep mystery. While wandering on its streets, I was remembering that in the middle ages Florence was one of the wealthiest cities. That under the Medici family patronage the arts were flourishing. I could see at every corner that this city was under the influences of arts and beauty because it had it encrypted in every door or decorative features I could see on that palazzo.
As I was expecting, I could not miss the cathedral which was standing majestic in the middle of the piazza, with Giotto`s tower bell close by and Baptisterum with it`s gilded gates of paradise. An architectural wonder which my eyes were having such a hard time to grasp every detail. It was like a colossus which it had stories carved in its body. There was so much information in those marble walls that I cold not follow. It was overwhelming. I was trying to capture every detail, but my eyes were passing rapidly over the walls and its features in my attempt to capture in memory as much as possible. I was feeling the ecstasy of beauty falling upon me making me dizzy.
As much as I wanted to stay there contemplating that masterpiece I was not able to. I wish I could stay and admire more the dome, for which completion Brunelleschi was spending so many sleepless nights , but I knew that there is more to see and did not have yet answers to my questions.
I can say I was walking literally head in the sky because my eyes were scanning all the palazzo on both sides of the streets and one could have spotted me for being a tourist by far because of it. Without planning, or knowing where I was heading I did found myself in Piazza dela Signoria where the statues of the Neptune Fountain the symbol of Rome were opening the way to another marvel …Palazzo Vecchio,
Although I promised myself that I will not lose any time in the museums the curiosity prevailed and I entered the Palazzo. I felt like all the images of the cathedral that I was trying to keep in my memory melted in fume when the images from Palazzo Vecchio were replacing them. Room after room it felt like floating through centuries of history and art.
After Palazzo Vecchio, I realized that one day is not going to be enough for me to cover everything so. I left for a while the touristic places and decided to wonder on the streets and see what I might find to have a real image of how a day in a Florentine life looks like. The curiosity took me browsing through antic shops or in the flea market.
The old furniture and antiques the moment I saw them already were adorning the house of my dreams, a beautiful dream if not shattered by the reality … I am not married to Rockefeller ..not even with one of his relatives..so all those antiques will be only part of the house in my dreams… But..it is still a house..even if it is virtual..
My aimless walk took me in the Jewish neighborhood also and it was a surprise to see that in Florence it use to be such a flourishing Jewish community which has a splendid synagogue built in the 18th century.
Such a long walk normally should bring a great hunger, it was not the case for me, though. I felt like the beauty of that city was giving me what I need it. But, since I never say no to a dessert I stopped in the first pasticeria. How could I not do that? There were so many delicious cakes which were trying to lure me inside the shop..and I admitted my weakens…I went inside. I should say now that what happen in Florence, stayed in Florence… I will not say how many cakes I have eaten… I would say that enough to give me some sort of sugar rush …Or it was the city which gave me that feeling?..I really can’t say..You should go there and try for yourself…the city and the pastries..
With my need for sugar satisfy I continue my quest on the streets of Florence trying to return to the touristic places, because when I was looking around me I could see that I am the only one of my kind in the neighborhood. It was not hard to find my way back and soon Iwas staying in front of Ponte Vecchio.
I lost myself in the crowds and I was looking at the bridge, the only inhabited bridge at his time now having jewelry shops with the most exquisite models. There are not too many jewelry shops which will draw my attention, and myself I am not wearing jewelry, I am a traveler, my richness is my travels. But I am a woman in the same time, so when I saw the refinement of those models my eyes remained stuck on those windows.
Still dazzled, a jewelry can have this effect, crossed Arno river and once again decided to walk wherever my heart desired, away from the crowds. I so close to Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Garden but I wanted to be alone with my thoughts so I chose once again Florence and its streets. Looking back, I realized that if I would not ave did that I would not have discovered what it will become my “Secret Garden“.
Somewhere behind Boboli Garden, I found a place which only a local might know about it. A garden close to the old city walls with an old metal bench which belonged to an old palazzo which was standing in that very spot. Suddenly I found myself away from the madding crowd and from where I was standing I could see the rooftops of Florence. The was only the birds song and the silence of the old defense walls around me.
I can’t say how long I stayed there. For me, it was a delight to feel like a silent watcher. To see the people walking on the alleys of the nearby Boboli Garden, a garden of a sophisticated beauty in its sometimes wild features. To see how everyday life it is for a Florentine. The sight of the rooftops made me think how life is flowing beneath those roofs, people were living their life, falling in love or giving birth to a new life. Destinies were falling their paths and I was there like a watcher, like one of those frozen statues which were witnessing the passing time.
The sun was leaning on the walls behind me like wanting to kiss them. For me, it was a sign that I should leave. I feel in love with that garden and since then has become the place where my mind sometimes hides in. There was another aspect of life in Florence which I wanted to see, and that were the weddings. Sine I am working in the industry I wanted to see how a real Tuscan wedding takes place. Sure I did not know any of my friends marrying in Florence but still I was hoping to find one of the venues where the Tuscan Weddings take place, and I was lucky …
Not far on the terrace of Villa La Vedetta, the entire set up for a wedding was already finished. As women, we are always dreaming how the wedding day should look like. For me, that terrace embodied all the things I was dreaming about my wedding day…wedding in Florence, overlooking the entire city ..what a girl should want more…?
Left the villa with a smile on my face. This marvelous city already gave me so much, seeing this charming little terrace prepared for wedding brought me a state of bliss.
Felt a bit guilty by not following the touristic path through Florence. But if I would have walked the path already walked I could not have seen the true beauty of this city. The narrow streets where life seemed to follow is clam path same as centuries ago.
Nothing could have been indicating the drama through which this city went through centuries. The old defense wall which once was containing the entire city and was the witness of its changes. The bridges which are crossing the Arno uniting the two banks of the river reflecting their image in the flowing waters. The work of art lying all over Florence stating the glorious past.
The Cathedral with its massiveness dominating the entire city indicating that “Florence was and it will always be Florence“ a place of freedom of the spirit and imagination.
Left Florence when the sun was setting. This time, I had to find my way back to the railway station because if I would have lost my last train to Bologna I should have spent the night in Florence. My heart was full of Florence and although my entire body was telling me to stay I still found my way back to the railway station. I could not find answers to my questions and it did not seem so important to me. After all, I came to discover the spirit of Florence and this is what I found. I did came the second time to visit
Florence but it did not help me to elucidate the mystery around it. Maybe mysteries are supposed to remain what they are…mysteries. And… Florence is supposed to be what it is…Just Florence.