As spring settles in, the rich colors and warm light invigorates Florence. From the irises blossoming around town to the rose buds sprouting from leafy branches, the city is coming to life. Over the past three weeks, I took long strolls up to Piazzale Michelangiolo, ran up to San Miniato, hiked up to Viale Galileo, perused the Giardino delle Rose, ambled around Piazza Santo Spirito, admired the architecture of the Mercato del Porcellino, delighted in an impromptu sunset from Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli, and paused to give thanks to Dante in Piazza Santa Croce. Delighting in Florence requires time. Taking the time to breathe in the charms of the city fills me with joy.
More views around town have inspired me to take black and white photos. I picture the city differently now as if I could capture her even better than before. In color, the photos bring the city to life. In the black and white ones, they bring the details to life.
Piazzale Michelangiolo — April 7, 2021The chilly air streams past me with its infrequent puffs of warm air, tossing my hair back and forth as I run along Lungarno Cellini. My eyes open wide to admire the pollen from Poplar trees floating in the sky like snow. Winding up Viale Michelangiolo, the morning sunlight strokes the hillside where a sea of dandelions and daisies surround the lavender-colored irises. The iris flowers atop long stems reach toward the sun, as if trying to kiss it.
The rhythm of my run revitalizes me. With my body fully engaged, my mind is at peace, making way for my heart to whisper to me. Surrounded by nature, tranquility seeps into me with every breath.
When I spot a single red flower below a birch tree whose leaves glow in the sun like lanterns, I stop. A gust of wind sprinkles a flurry of Cypress seeds to the ground. While tromping through the field to take a photo of the tulip, a blackbird startles me when he dives into a leafless bush. I circle a jasmine shrub overflowing with yellow flowers to savor its sweet scent before returning to the sidewalk.
I head for Piazzale Michelangiolo’s far corner overlooking the city after saying hello to David. The fast-moving clouds cast their shadow on pieces of the downtown area while the sun continues to highlight the Duomo.
Strolling across the terracotta terrace of the Piazzale Michelangiolo, I pull back my shoulders and welcome the sky’s embrace. I whisper “grazie” to the churches and monuments nestled between buildings and the bridges spanning the Arno. I take in a deep breath and fill up on Florence. Her love flows through in and around the city, just waiting for us to collect it in our hearts.
When I reach the piazzale’s wide steps, I glance over my shoulder to see the panorama one last time. Florence’s giglio, designed with brightly colored pansies, catches my eye. I teeter on the lawn’s stone divider and snap a photo. In every season, Mother Nature beautifies Florence with her bountiful gifts.
Giardino delle Rose — April 14, 2021Excitement propels me through the narrow streets of San Niccolò and up the incline to the Giardino delle Rose. I only stop once when a truck passes through Porta San Miniato ahead of me. As soon as I arrive inside the garden, its sweet scent of nature thriving greets me.
The rose bushes show off their shiny green leaves where rosebuds crown the tops of the branches. Their color remains a secret while they wait for the sun to kiss them awake. Brisk gusts of wind rock the shrubs and make the cypress trees howl. I push my hair out of my face to watch the tree branches undulate, dropping seeds to the ground.
Determined to reach the upper garden, I hike up the steps alongside the gardener’s villa. Tiny daisies, buttercups, and dandelions blanket the grass. As soon as I spot the Duomo, I pause. The melodies of the blackbirds fill me with joy while I take in the view.
I walk under the trellis where yellow Lady Banks roses blossom in clusters, surrounding me with their delicate perfume. I smile at the Judas tree that scatters its vibrant pink petals like confetti onto the ground. Sitting on a stone slab, I watch the low-hanging clouds slither across the sky. My eyes jump to all the purple sprinkled throughout the garden. From the deep purple irises and light purple blossoms to the meadow sage and rosemary bushes.
As I make my way down the steps, the wisteria’s sweet fragrance lures me to the fountain. Its flowers hang from the branches like fruit. Standing underneath the vines, I get drunk on their sweet perfume while a bee buzzes around me, diving in and out of the blossoms.
Returning to the middle of the garden, I circle the rose bushes one more time before heading home. After spotting a pink rose, I rush to it and lay my nose on its velvety petals. My eyes close as I take a few whiffs of it.
Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli — April 19, 2021On my way to Ponte Santa Trinita to watch the sunset, my eyes fixated on the sun glowing in the distance. Pedestrians in front of me headed west this evening.
I paused on Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli to bask in the sun’s warm light, shimmering above San Frediano in Cestello.
Piazza Santo Spirito — April 20, 2021When I reached Piazza Santo Spirito, I stopped next to the monument of Cosimo Ridolfi to appreciate the goings-on at a distance. With a smile on my face, I scanned the piazza. People stood around the fountain and cafés while others sat on the steps of the basilica. A soft murmur of lively voices created a welcoming atmosphere.
As the sun was setting, it cast its golden light, warming up the buildings under the pale blue sky. When a cool breeze swayed the tops of the trees, I made my way through the piazza, navigating the narrow streets to return to the river.
San Miniato al Monte — April 21, 2021While strolling along Viale Galileo, I paused abruptly when the top of San Miniato al Monte appeared from behind the bright green trees and bushes. A woman jogging behind me gasped as she almost bumped into me.
Piazza Santa Croce — April 22, 2021As I run errands around my neighborhood, I love it when a view I enjoy almost daily becomes even more spectacular. When I first moved to Florence, I lived on a street behind the Basilica di Santa Croce and fell in love with Dante. I even used a photo of him to represent my “Living in Florence” blog. Every time I stroll around the basilica, walking from via dei Benci to Via Verdi or traversing the piazza, my eyes bounce from the basilica’s façade to Dante.
This year marks the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death. Besides being a renowned poet, philosopher, and writer, he is also the father of the Italian language. As we celebrate Dante, we also celebrate Florence (his birthplace) and the Italian language.
While walking down via San Giuseppe, the sun shined from behind the basilica and cast a long shadow toward me. As the sunlight became brighter, the chilly air warmed up. I untied my scarf and let it dangle around my neck. The sound of children playing and people chatting welcomed me to the piazza. I hiked up the steps to admire Dante’s statue as the light beamed underneath the eagle.
A warm sense of gratitude bubbled up inside of me. I give thanks to Dante, who birthed the language I love from the city that I love. All I can say is, “Grazie di cuore.”
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