|Veiw from the Bardini Gardens|
On Monday night my friends and I fulfilled a bucket list item that we’ve had since the beginning of the program: ride the carousel in Piazza della Republica. We must have walked by it countless times, but we didn’t get a change to ride it until our last week in Florence. We paid our two euros to the bored teenager at the ticket booth. It must have been around 10:30 at night, and we were the only ones crazy enough to be out on this drizzly Monday night. Let me just say this: it was a magical experience. I forgot how much I love carousels. Yes, they go slow and they’re kind of anti-climactic as far as rides go, but there’s something beautiful about being on a bright, spinning platform, riding brightly colored animals, the likes of which you will never see in real life. It’s almost as though, for those few moments, you’ve entered some of kind of fairy tale. They’re definitely best at night, when you can’t see the judgmental stares of people wondering why a bunch of twenty-somethings are laughing hysterically on a carousel. Afterward, we wandered back towards our houses, past the Duomo, lit from below. There are some parts of me that like Florence best at night.
One Tuesday we visited the Galleria del Academia to finally catch a glimpse of Michelangelo’s David. The statue is monumentally impressive in real life, and I don’t think you understand just how large it is until you see it in person. The strange proportions of the hands also make more sense when you’re standing under it, looking up. Considering that Michelangelo was given a defective piece of marble in order to craft this statue, makes it even more incredible.
I spent my last full day in Florence by myself, because most of my friends had either already left for spring break, or their family members were visiting. That's not the say I was lonely: on the contrary, a quiet day wandering the city I love was exactly what I needed. I started by heading to a coffee shop I'd heard about called Ditta Artigianale. It was a nice mix of Italians and other Europeans and they serve blueberry pancakes and chai lattes which was all the persuading I needed to check it out.
|Breakfast of champions|
After breakfast I headed to the Bardini Gardens, which are similar to the Boboli, but smaller and with a better view of the city. I bought my ticket and actually understood the woman behind the front desk when she gave me directions in Italian. The Bardini was peaceful and beautiful, if a little sparse. Apparently, in the spring, the covered archway blooms purple, and you can stroll under a canopy of flowers. I stopped for a few moments to sketch the view from the overlook point, and then made my way to the Boboli. I know, I visited the Boboli last week, but can you really spend too much time in a garden? It was just as gorgeous as ever and this time I checked out the costume exhibit in the Palazzo Pitti, which had elaborate dresses from several different eras, and even the fragments of renaissance clothing! I then retired to my favorite coffee shop in Florence, La Cite, for an afternoon pick me up. Here are some gems from that day:
|Thing to do in a garden: take selfies with the statues|
|This is my favorite place to get pastries and pizza-by-the-slice in Florence. Oh, and they serve fresh donuts daily at 4pm.|
After lots of letter-writing and people-watching I made plans to meet up with my friend and her parents at Piazzale Michelangelo, the best place to watch the sunset in Florence. The sky certainly put on a show.
What can I say about Florence, to sum it up? It's a city that feels like it's trapped under glass, a relic of the renaissance. I'm finishing this post miles away in my London flat, in a city that is in some ways Florence's opposite. London feels like it could change at any second- there's just so much going on. Florence is a fairy tale city, old and a bit worn but still pulsing with whatever magic made it the birthplace of the renaissance. And if the city is still and ancient, the people are vibrant and joyous. I've learned so much about how to live here: how to laugh and savor and appreciate. I'm not usually one for nostalgia, but I do believe that we leave pieces of ourselves in all the places we've ever lived. Cities are living, breathing reflections of the life that inhabits them, and I feel so, so honored to have been part of Florence's reflection, if only for a little while.
Ciao for now, but not forever!