Frolicking around Florence

Spring infuses Florence with new life and a burst of hope. This season brings with it vivid colors, unpredictable weather, longer days, and warm sunlight. Over these past two weeks, I visited the Giardino delle Rose where colored roses were blossoming and the Giardino Bardini where the fragrant wisteria was flourishing. I stood on Ponte Santa Trinita twice: to glimpse the full moon and to bask in the riverscape as the sun was setting. I also took other photos of moments I enjoyed while I strolled around town.

Living in Florence :: Frolicking around Florence

Giardino delle Rose — April 25, 2021
On my run this morning along Lungarno Serristori, I took a detour when I reached the Torre di San Niccolò. Letting my heart lead me forward, I hiked up the wide steps toward the Fontana delle Rampe del Poggi and marched alongside parked cars while cars and bicyclists sped down the tree-lined avenue. I paused in front of the hedge to delight in the view of Florence framed by trees as the church bells rang. Certain sounds, like church bells and birdsongs, render the city even more charming.
Living in Florence, Italy :: Giardino delle Rose

Through the closed gate of the Giardino delle Rose, I noticed people standing outside the gate next to the scalinata. One woman with a camera in her hand descended the gravel path from the top exit below Piazzale Michelangiolo and walked past the fountain where the wisteria hung behind it. 

When the gardener came down the narrow staircase, I greeted him with a cheerful buongiorno. He smiled shyly at me while nodding his head. As soon as the automatic gate opened wide enough for me to fit through, I darted inside. Taking deep breaths to capture the sweet scent of the garden, I zigzagged through the empty grassy area. Yesterday evening I strolled across the garden’s top pathway between the two entrances. I wanted to enjoy the roses, but couples and small groups positioned themselves on the lawn to soak up the sun.

The gardener strolled down the gravel path to open the bottom gate. I took advantage of my time to navigate the rose bushes. Rushing toward every colorful rose, I dipped my nose inside its velvety petals and inhaled its sweet fragrance.

The sun warmed my back as I scanned the panorama where the city glowed under the blue sky. I breathed in the tranquility emphasized by the water trickling in the fountain and the blackbirds singing from inside the cypress trees.

After a woman walking her dog stopped alongside me, I headed to the exit. With the sweet perfume of wisteria swirling around me, I paused for a moment before sprinting up the scalinata to Viale Galileo to continue my run.

Giardino Bardini — April 27, 2021
Marching up the dirt incline, I breathe in the warm spring air even though a thick layer of gray clouds looms overhead. The green bushes and trees are brighter than the last time I visited Giardino Bardini a couple of months ago. Every step I take up the stone steps in the lower garden is quick and full of joy. I pause once when bright yellow roses summon me to sniff their soft perfume. 
Living in Florence, Italy :: Giardino Bardini

When I arrive at the first plateau, irises with their yellow and purple petals line the upper garden’s staircase. Continuing alongside the rose bushes, I smile at the fruit trees showing off their tiny white blossoms. A steady breeze carries with it the scent of recently cut grass. At the base of the pergola, purple and pink flowers dangle in the air. Closing my eyes for a moment, I inhale the wisteria’s delightful perfume.

A family of four pose for photos with wide grins on their faces. I stride through the pergola, glancing at the city and studying the wisteria’s long vines wrapped around the metal structure. The city murmurs in the background while a few blackbirds sing tender melodies.

Bees disappear into the wisteria flowers while one orange butterfly flutters in the air. When the family descends and a photographer finishes taking photos, I am alone under the pergola. Stretching out my arms, I revel in the magnificence of my surroundings. To be immersed in nature surrounded by sweet-smelling purple blossoms with Florence in full view is to be blessed.

At the sound of footsteps approach, I walk around to the old vegetable garden, which is now an open field. Sitting on a wooden bench near the olive grove, I notice visitors wandering under the pergola to take photos of the wisteria, themselves, and the view. Laughter and joy reverberate throughout the entire garden. The pale yellow blossoms shaped into a cone on the tall chestnut trees, bouncing on the branches, infuse me with a sense of harmony and tranquility.

When the church bells ring at one o’clock, I meander my way back through the pergola, taking in a few breaths to keep the wisteria’s perfume with me.

Ponte Vecchio — April 30, 2021
After passing the Ponte Vecchio, I pause before heading down Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli. Small groups of people sit on terraces having an aperitivo, while others sip drinks and chat along the red brick wall above the Arno. I take long strides down the wide pedestrian street toward Ponte Santa Trinita. The lampposts lined up like soldiers fill me with joy. A delivery man on a bicycle startles me as he swerves around me, creating a blast of wind that tosses my scarf forward.
Living in Florence, Italy :: Ponte Vecchio

I lean my legs against the sun-kissed stone barrier and peer at the horizon that swallowed the sun a half hour earlier. The luminous gray clouds glide south as two bats flap their wings wildly, swooping inches from me. The harmony of the view surrounding Ponte alla Carraia puts me in a trance. My body relaxes gently and my breath deepens.

As the skies grow dim, fewer and fewer people circulate the streets. I enjoy long moments of silence between the rattling of bicycles and cars on the bumpy road. Footsteps echo loudly as they approach and soften as they distance themselves from me.

Sitting down on the low wall, I admire an unlit Ponte Vecchio. The steady flow of wind carries the Arno’s scent of crisp water and the street’s limestone. When the full moon seeps through the hazy layer of clouds, I dart across the bridge. It’s as close as I can get to the full moon. Its pink glow brings a smile to my face.

Drifting clouds eclipse the moonlight and then conceal it completely. Waiting for it to reappear, I enjoy the sound of the church bells chiming and reverberating off the buildings before the wind carries it away. The royal blue skies become as dark as the ocean. When the golden light emanating from the lampposts glistens on the ripply waters, I bid farewell to the full moon that departed before me.

Ponte Vecchio — May 1, 2021
On my way across the Ponte Vecchio, I stopped to check in with Cellini. He looked as handsome as ever, thanks to the diffused sunlight that made him gleam under a blanket of white clouds.

Giardino Bardini — May 2, 2021
As the wind swept the clouds across the sky, I marveled at the yellow and purple irises lined up along the baroque staircase.
Living in Florence, Italy :: Ponte VecchioLiving in Florence, Italy :: Giardino Bardini

Mercato del Porcellino — May 4, 2021
Standing on the corner of via Porta Rossa, a taxi inches across the intersection while people stroll by. One couple eating gelato from tiny cups stands in front of the loggia. The mild breeze cools down quickly as the sun dips behind the Mercato del Porcellino.

When my chance to photograph the loggia with no passersby arrives, I seize it.
Living in Florence, Italy :: Mercato del Porcellino

Sunset from Ponte Santa Trinita — May 5, 2021
When I see the sun’s golden rays flare out of an opening in the billowy clouds above the Ponte Vecchio, I quicken my step. The bright sunbeams stretch across the sky and the Arno. Upon reaching Lungarno degli Acciaioli, a terrace filled with tables catches my eye. Couples and small groups, sitting on comfy chairs, sip their iced drinks.
Living in Florence, Italy :: Ponte Santa Trinita

A steady breeze whistles in my ears as I head toward Ponte Santa Trinita. When I stand in my spot along the bridge’s stone barrier, I gaze at the horizon. The sun drifts behind the vagrant clouds, casting a dim light on the already muted colors of the buildings. After subsequent gusts of wind, I tie my hair back so it doesn’t fall in my face, obstructing my view.

Layers of wispy clouds remain immobile as one dark gray cloud with silvery edges staggers north. A flock of swallows flashing their white chests circle above Santo Spirito. A few intermittent motorini chug on the bridge’s bumpy road and a monopattino (scooter) clanks down the bicycle lane. But nothing distracts me from the view.

The sun slowly pops out of the clouds as an orange sphere and warms up everything it touches: the sky, the buildings, the bridge, and the Arno. A wave of warmth permeates the sweet scent of the river.
Living in Florence, Italy :: Ponte Santa Trinita

Gazing at the horizon, I breathe in the sunset’s energy, which is both powerful and peaceful. One of my greatest pleasures is watching the sunset from Ponte Santa Trinita. I appreciate seeing the colors splashed across the sky, but I also love luxuriating in every moment of the sunset above the Arno. 

After the sun drops behind the distant hills, I retrace my steps. The tables on the bustling terrace are now empty: only one couple remains huddled together eating dinner. Before walking past Ponte Vecchio, I stand next to the last lamppost on the red brick wall and smile at the somber sky. Gratitude bubbles up inside of me for having appreciated another sunset in my beloved city’s embrace.

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