Thinking of Florence and missing the magic...
Have you ever been to a place that does more than get under your skin? Have you ever woken up to the morning bells of a dozen churches and been able to honestly tell yourself "I am happier here than I have been, would be or could be anywhere else?" That is what Florence, Italy means to me. Of all the places I have been, it is the one where I felt least like a stranger. To the contrary, I felt a part of it from the moment I arrived. The people I met, the places I visited and the monumental relics of art and history to which I stood witness all beckoned me forward instead of pushing me away.
It has been just over two years since I was in Florence. I've wanted to go back ever since, but can just never get the time and funds to align to make a proper trip there possible.
But I still have my memories.
Locking my camera away in an effort to literally avoid putting anything between myself and the city.
Clambering up campanile steps in a blind zeal to see the city by morning's light.
Botticelli's Venus hanging in the Uffizi; bigger than I thought it would be.
Being taught how to properly pronounce nocciola (hazelnut) at the Gelato Festival.
Walking across the Arno on one of the city's many bridges to watch the sun set from the Piazzale Michelangelo.
Getting lost on the way back from the sunset and seeing the southwest neighborhoods come to magical life in a manner rivaling scenes from Midnight in Paris.
That beautiful girl behind the counter at the pizza shop.
Michele, the hilarious shop owner near the duomo who always demanded a kiss, like a blustery Southern aunt.
Mirko, the architecture student who moonlighted as a waiter. He emailed me a year later to that I photograph his wedding...I wish it had worked out.
Michelangelo's David, tall and proud in the Galeria dell'Academia. I swear he was breathing.
Kissing the cold marble of the duomo when it was time to leave.
Myself. Alone and quiet, entirely at peace and completely content to move through the city on booted feet, and simply bear witness to it.
Florence is magical.