I usually take an hour out of my day to watch the sunset. The moment I step outside, I let my intuition take over and lead me to where it wants to go. Sometimes I meander the streets in Florence or walk up the steps to Piazzale Michelangiolo, while at other times I stroll along the Arno River. I like to change locations; however, I do have a few favorites depending on where the sun is setting. For me, it's not enough to just see beauty. I must also experience, embrace, and appreciate Florence's beauty. When I walk around Florence, I try to stay as present as possible. I enjoy looking around me and taking in my surroundings.
While I was standing across from the San Frediano in Cestello church the other day, the Breathe app on my Apple Watch beeped at me. It was the first time it had beeped while I was outside watching the sunset. Instead of dismissing the alert message, I decided to become more conscious of my breathing for one minute as it suggested.
I took in long, deep breaths and focused on Florence's apparent beauty, but also everything that made up Florence. For that minute, I tried taking in everything that Florence was showing me. Besides the lovely church across the Arno that I was initially looking at, I began to let my eyes be drawn to the colors gradually changing in the sky and reflected on the river, the clouds creeping across the sky, the water swirling around in the river below, birds flying overhead toward the sun, cars and scooters crossing the bridge, bicycles rushing behind me, and people talking as they walked past me. All of that made up Florence's beauty.
Florence’s beauty isn’t just the view of the sun setting behind a church; it’s her liveliness and energy. If Florence's streets were empty, she would lack the energy of the people who live and breathe in this city every day. From the tourists who bring their energy of wonder and excitement to the locals who emanate Florence’s intensely creative energy, the two mix to produce a unique energy that make Florence what it is.
Now every time I am outside in my beloved city, I admire Florence’s monuments, bridges, gardens, and churches while also taking in Florence’s vivacity. I don’t use just my eyes to take in Florence’s beauty; I use my heart, which is where beauty becomes love.
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