Saturday, August 1, 2020

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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Monday, July 13, 2020

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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Friday, July 3, 2020

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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Thursday, June 18, 2020

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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Monday, June 8, 2020

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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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

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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Thursday, May 28, 2020

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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Saturday, May 16, 2020

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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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

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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Friday, May 8, 2020

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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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

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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Monday, March 23, 2020

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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Thursday, March 19, 2020

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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Sunday, March 15, 2020

Living in Florence :: Making the most of our quiet down period

This lockdown seems to be more of a quiet down period for us. Florence feels like she’s in hibernation with all the shops, cafés, and restaurants being closed. The streets, piazzas, and bridges are empty; however, we’re still able to go outside for a stroll alone, walk the dog, and purchase necessities. When I need to go outside, I keep away from the typically denser areas around Piazza della Signoria, Duomo, and Piazza Repubblica. I prefer to not encounter too many people if I can. It’s hard enough along the Arno to stay at least a meter from someone else that walking down a narrow street is even more complicated.

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Saturday, March 14, 2020

Living in Florence :: Send us love, not sadness

Everyone keeps telling me they’re sad for Florence and Italy. Lockdown is an inconvenience, but it is a protective measure for our country and our citizens. If you want to be sad, be sad about the people who are suffering right now from this pandemic, teetering between life and death, and those who have already died.

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