It is a city from the old world, the one with merchant princes rising from textiles to titles, with artists and architects rediscovering Roman techniques to construct theories, domes, and marble cathedrals that still anchor pedestrian paths.
Linear perspective in painting was developed in Florence, attributed to Brunelleschi, and indeed the vantage of travel let me situate more accurately relationships between objects of my past in this place. We travel to see friends, landmarks, sunsets in time zones not our own, and also to return with fresh eyes to places more familiar and measure our growth. What looms large in the everyday retreats as we take our bags through tiny airport queues - Yes, here for pleasure - this present moment just a blip in the continuum, a jot in the longer business of a whole life.
In front of the Basilica of Santa Croce, I felt the beginnings of Stendhal syndrome as the pseudonymous French author did two centuries ago when he toured the sixteen chapels of this church. The condition describes visitors who become overwhelmed with local beauty and swoon, overcome by the history and carven statues by polymaths who practiced on buildings.
It is a city of beautiful objects, and after spending a day with many of the most famed in the Uffizi Gallery, I crossed the Amo River on the Ponte Vecchio, with its gleaming displays of gold and jewels looked at by those passing in furs. On the other side, I found and entered the family-run shop that offers only leather gloves. I held out my hands. She knew my size. Unlined, please. Three pairs the color of a glass of Chianti were placed on the counter, and I put my elbow on a small pillow as instructed. She pulled the first glove down over my fingers, checking for fit, then gestured for my other elbow on the pillow. Twice more. The last pair made us smile together, sliding on as if bespoke. These, along with a small pouch of salt, were all I carried out of the city. The real treasure was easy to pass through customs: secret knowledge from Florentine friends who design their days to bring in beauty and trade in ideas and words that will last.
Hangin’ with Medici
Italian coffee at Florence, Italy. http://eseldisparador.blogspot.com.es/2014/09/cafe-en-florencia.html
Piazza della Signoria
Looking to the past.
Firenze: just for a couple of minutes
Always look up.
I will wonder if I dreamt it.
A very dear friend, tomatoes with lardo snapping in the oven, fennel sausage from the market, a Chianti, and stories about our families on a cold night.