The day I arrived in Florence I purchased my 2022 Amici degli Uffizi card, which now joins the first one I bought back in 2012, This organization has contributed to many projects to improve the exhibits at all its affiliated museums. The card gives me unlimited, free admission to the Uffizi, the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, the Bardini Gardens, and others. That in itself is a benefit, especially if I come here more than once in the year. But regardless of the number of my yearly visits, my Amici degli Uffizi membership contributes to the restoration of paintings and the renovation of the gallery rooms in the museum. I certainly have enjoyed these benefits. Here are a few of my favorites. As you may notice, I favor 13th and 14th century paintings.
This early bird was the first to enter the Museo del Opera del Duomo yesterday morning. I knew where to go to stand in front of the original Baptistry doors by Andrea Pissano and Lorenzo Ghiberti. Turn around and I face a representation of the facade of Santa Maria dei Fiori, with original statues thoughtfully placed. Sacred music instills a calmness. I am in a holy space, and for twenty minutes I am the only one standing between the Baptistry and the Duomo.
Other visitors come to join me; they absorb the calmness; unwittingly we enjoy the rest of the museum in sacred community.
A morning in Florence
My trips to Florence a plethora of experiences to share and pictures to post. This visit, however, I’m not taking as many pictures as in previous trips. During yesterdays visit to the Convent of San Marco my camera stayed in my pocket as I walked the corridors of the cells, each with a fresco by Far Angelico. I noticed that I was more observant and ‘in the moment’ because I wasn’t taking picture. If I whip through my iPhotos I’m sure I have recorded ten or fifteen different visits to just that one special place. (When I have time I’ll check it out, but I’m too busy now.)
For the first time, the beautiful cloister was open, which I share with you here.
After the San Marco visit, I ventured to the Mercato Centrale to wander about and purchase some takeout for my dinner. Tourists, residents, restaurant owners fill this amazing ‘supermarket’ feast to gaze and gape and to purchase.
Why I write this blog
This morning I sat on a bench in Piazza Santa Croce watching the early morning pedestrians pass by: a dad walking his son to school, teenage boys all talking at once, a middle aged man walking purposefully across the square, two tourists dragging their suitcases, a stylishly dressed woman waiting for someone, and…. From my personal experience, and as a fellow human being, I could imagine a little of what these folks might be thinking and feeling. But what was really going on in their minds and hearts? Were they sad, happy, worried, accepting, fearful, loving, suicidal, happy-go-lucky? I don’t know.
Even if they named their feeling to me, as friends often do, I wouldn’t know the whole story; but I would grow closer to understanding and thus empathizing with them. Empathy connects us in love; it is the hope of the world. That is why I write this blog. There is a caveat, however. I share with the hope that you will take it all in without judgment. Consider me just another person on the street that you can love. Use my words to help understand and love yourself.
Letting go of planning ahead
Yesterday, I found myself on Bus 7 on the way to Fiesole, a little hill town over looking Florence. I say ‘found myself’ because I notice that on this trip that I am doing less planning ahead. My usual routine starts the same—up and out as close to 7AM as I can manage, a cappuccino and another along with a brioche at a cafe where I can sit and write. Then, I begin to wander.
Today I find myself at the Liceo Artistico park on Via Romana at Porta Roma—one of my favorite go-to outdoor writing places, but always in the afternoon, never at 9:50 in the morning. And so it goes, all a part of my commitment to stay in the present moment, this time examining tree trunks, park benches and whatever is in-between. As someone who doesn’t look back, but looks to the future, this a new way for me. I am discovering a new tense, the present. Hmm, I always like a project; this is my newest.
March 21st, 2022
Easy trip, and I mean easy. It alway is when I can lie down and sleep for three hours on a transatlantic flight. It is quiet here in Florence Droves of tourists haven’t arrived yet. The weather is on the cool side; the forecast for the week is sun. Everyone must wear a mask and show their vaccination card (green card) upon entering a building.
Since arriving at 9AM, I have wandered around, taken some pictures of my favorite spots, had my first cappuccino, met my Florence friend Virginia for lunch, snapped some pictures from my apartment window, unpacked, and taken a nap. I’m about to go out for an afternoon walk. During the eleven days I’m here, I plan to walk ‘all’ the street of historic Florence, marking them as I go on a city map. And so, off I go for a late afternoon stroll.
Off to Florence
I’m at Logan Airport. Easy bus ride without a sign of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. One person ahead of me going through security. Vino Volo opened this past Monday. I’m enjoying a glass of wine and some Italian meatballs and baguette slices. Travel is picking up. I am ready. I’m going. Air France to Paris and then on to Italy. I’ll arrive at the Florence airport tomorrow morning at 8:45, take the tram in the Centro, walk to my rental apartment, get the key, walk to Piazza della Signoria, and meet my friend Virginia at Michelangelo’s David. After our lunch together I will begin my solitary time walking around with God, writing, visiting churches and museums, and just….being.
I’m heading back to Florence this coming Sunday, returning Friday, April 1st. I cherish these solitary trips, wondering if this one will be my last. One day, one trip at a time. That’s all we have, one ‘whatever’ at a time. But, as we grow older, and because of these Covid and Ukrainian times, everyone, regardless of age, is aware of the preciousness of one day, one moment, one trip, one family gathering, one… at a time. And then, from Les Mis, we recall the poignancy as we sing to ourselves, “One more day.…”
And yet, these one-more-day times don’t have to be have a melancholy overcast. They can be a time of rejoicing and gratitude, a time of realizing that the present moment is the best ever moment.
Praying for everyone
Here I am, holding the space of silence, solitude, and simplicity for the world. I’m serious when I say that. I’m also humbled, guilty, and grateful. Here I am in my cozy home, with food in the refrigeration, books on the table, friends a mile or an email away, and a strong faith. Perhaps it is my faith that is keeping me hopeful even when at times I am not optimistic.
Prayer is open to everyone and for everyone, even when evil seems to have taken over. Close your eyes and imagine light surrounding all the people of the world—refugees, everyday people, soldiers, leaders and politicians. I mean ALL.
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