It’s been a while since I wrote the first episode of Florence. Travel writing, I feel, is not just reminiscing. It allows one to revisit and re think. One crucial aspect, as far as I am concerned, is also to re-learn, to look at the photographs and to reinvent those aspects that were either overlooked, or those, given the constraints of time, could not be accommodated. At times as these, when the world is more or less shut indoors, it is difficult to focus on something as remote as one’s past travels. One is too preoccupied with the present and the immediate and the urge to survive. But, even so, trouble emerges when a particular shade of the evening sun or even the morning chiaroscuro, plays a little hide and seek between memory and reality. The mind travels and unravels itself, with the metaphor of a kite.
The first evening in Florence was spent on the Ponte Vecchio, along side the Arno, where there was some singing by the local talents, the shops were closed. We strolled in the streets where there were merry tourists frequenting gelato shops. We were not far off. In several times of the day, we wallowed in the glory of real Italian gelato smoothness, enjoying the many flavours and the local abundance. Morning, afternoon, evening – all times seemed to belong to the gelato. It seemed absolute bliss!
The next morning began with the promise of going to Venice! But we failed to get the tickets to the morning train. Hence, we had some more time to wander along the streets of Florence! We decided to explore the Boboli gardens across the Arno, and behind the Palazzo Pitti or the Pitti Palace, where the Medicis officially lived. The entrance to the Gardens was through the palace, but we didn’t have time to look at the magnificent collection of paintings in the palace. Our train to Venice was at 1.00 pm.
The garden was magnificent in its huge layout, it resembled the structure of a huge amphitheatre, with regular symmetric points in the center, which punctuated the line of vision in an absolute straight line. An absolute architectural marvel, the garden had a Neptune statue, an obelisk and crowned itself in a gorgeous terrace garden, overlooking the Apennine mountains. The terrace also housed a ceramic museum with a serene and exquisite collection. The view was absolutely breathtaking and very refreshing. While on our climb downwards we walked around the meadows and grottos that were at the side of the main stairs up the gardens.
Venice will be covered in a separate blog post. It was late when we returned, and on our way back from the station we spotted the Palazzo Marini where P.B. Shelley composed his ‘Ode to the West Wind’, in 1819. Tired though we were, we ambled our way to the Marcato Centrale for our dinner – the only regular meal that we had that day after Daniella’s home grown breakfast. On our way we saw the quaint ristorantes lit up in magical light and music lighting our way to the Marcato. Somewhere there were the locals singing and a crowd which gathered around them. The cobbled streets stood silent, muted in their historical glory and silenced in their fatigue. As I write this my heart goes out to those streets, to Daniella’s homestay and her hospitality, and to the glories of Uffizi and other sites. I do hope all are safe.