Firenze – you conquer my heart every time. The last time I saw you it was March of ’78. I was a mere girl of 15, and you won me over with your fresh strawberries at every gelateria and your magnifique paintings from Boticelli, Michelangelo and Leonardo.
Now, I am a mature woman of 55 and you have seduced me again, with your shopping and your gaiety. I can’t help but feel you, flirtatious and alluring, smiling at me with shop after shop of beautiful things. Leather bags, beautiful jewelry, leather gloves and shoes. The fashions for men, and for women have me swooning at the impressive quality of goods by Italian designers. Gucci, Armani, Prada, Dolce and Gabbana, Fendi and Versace shops look at me, and shrug, as if to say, “but of course, what do you expect?!”
I can’t help but wonder at the purpose of these shops. Are they for the wealthy tourists? Or are there so many Italians in Florence that are that well off? I suppose for both however none are bulging with customers. But when a pair of shoes sells for $5,000, one need only sell one pair to cover the rent, and the remaining proceeds would contribute to profit.
The people here are lighthearted and happy. They smile as if living and working in Firenze is a good life. Here i am, doing exactly what we were doing when we lived in that heavenly apartment in Ottawa’s Byward Market. Our hotel has a rooftop bar with a great 5pm groove, perfect for Italian aperitivo. I am drinking a Spritz! It’s a drink that blends Prosecco with Aperol, a unique orange-tasting Italian liqueur.
The Duomo tower chimes the hour, as we sip on our drinks, munching on olives. The sun sets slowly, we smile at each other, enjoying the pace of the city. We know that 6 floors below, at street level, the car-less streets are still filled with tourists, walking from shop to shop, and market stall to market stall, searching for good deals on italian take-always.
Since being in Italy, we like to dine later, around 8pm or later. We go to bed later, and we sleep in later. Florence, you suit us. I feel like a cat, stretching as we wake at 10am, stepping out around noon, slowly walking around people, basking in the wam days of October still at 26 degrees. After dinner, we retire to our room around 10:30pm, read and maybe watch Netflix and relax. Sleep comes around midnight or later.
In Florence you don’t just dine on fashion and good wine; you also gorge on Renaissance art, culture, philosophy and architecture. It’s all around us. Galleries and cathedrals brimming with works of art, created by renowned artists unleashed and enabled by the backers and philanthropists of the time, wealthy, forward thinking nobles that wanted to see innovation, and influential work, capable of changing the world, which it did, spreading through Italy and Europe like wild fire. They too, like me, were in need of a little bit of Florence.
The wealthy noble family of the Medici were its benefactor. Renaissance, means rebirth and it marked the era (starting in the 1300s) by giving man a purpose, and a sense of being again. It also gave Greek and Roman art another go – but with a twist of modern, new ageism of the 14th century.
Like Venice, Rome and Pisa, Florence is a unique city. We have visited each city, and left with a different feeling. We refer to our little place in Iano as our home, Pisa was a nice day trip, Venice left us perplexed, but Florence leaves us lighthearted, wined and dined. Great food, great wine, great art, and great people. We are smitten.