This is an entry in the We Said Go Travel Writing Contest written by Sarah Humphreys from England. Thanks for your entry Sarah!
On first arriving in Florence, over twenty years ago, I was immediately struck by a sign outside the microscopic airport that had been translated into English as “The delays of today are for your pleasure tomorrow.” At that exact point, I decided I wanted to live in Italy.
It got better. Attempting to find out where and when to get the bus to the centre, I asked an elderly Italian gentleman for information. In reply to my asking him what time the bus was, he shrugged his shoulders and answered,
“Boh, it will come.” My Anglo-Saxon companion was quite disgusted but I thought it was wonderful. The bus will surely eventually turn up, so why worry about it.
That evening, having found the very last bed in the central youth hostel, my organised friend had arranged to stay with an Italian family months before, I put on my best floaty dress and decided to wander around in the style of E.M Forster’s Lucy Honeychurch and get myself purposely lost.
After about half an hour, I drifted out of a narrow side street and found myself in Piazza della Signoria. Not knowing where to look first, I was tempted to swoon, although from very different reasons from my dear Lucy’s. The sun was setting over one corner and the crescent moon could just be seen in another, the sky an incandescent blueish-purple and to top it all, a lone flute player was serenading passers-by with delicate expertise.
Glancing round at David, Perseus, Neptune and Hercules it all became too much and I burst into tears. Another elderly Italian gentleman approached me. “Ah Signorina, Is it your first time in Florence?” I nodded. He patted me on the back. “Have a wonderful time, and fall in love.” So much for trying to be an inconspicuous tourist but that was the beginning of my love affair with Italy, and in particular, Florence.It is really almost impossible to put the beauty of Florence into words. To be truly appreciated, it needs to be wandered round in a state of delightful stupor. The light in Florence is like no other. The smells of Florence, at times overwhelmed with the stench of drains, are like no other.
The whole place is bursting with priceless treasures and stupendous sights, Brunelleschi’s breathtaking Dome, the medieval Ponte Vecchio, The Uffizi, fabulously decorated churches such as Santa Croce, the list is endless. However, I am always drawn back to the same place. Despite having lived in Tuscany for fifteen years, I cannot pass through the centre of Florence, no matter how busy I am, without at least passing through Piazza della Signoria. Whether to admire Ammannati’s majestic fountain of Neptune and his marble sea-horses, gaze at Giambologna’s equestrian statue of Cosimo I or sit in the Loggia della Signoria and wonder if those wonderful marble statues are going to start moving.
My favourite guilty pleasure is to discreetly position myself in the doorway of The Palazzo Vecchio and surreptitiously stare at David’s bottom. It may not be the real thing, but it is a marvellous copy and for me at least, has an irresistible fascination. A twenty-year love affair, which still makes me dizzy, this is indeed a fine romance.
About the Author: Sarah Humphreys: I have been writing since I could hold a pencil. I am originally form near Liverpool in the Uk but I’ve lived in The USA, Greece, The Czech Republic and Italy. I’ve been living in Pistoia, near Florence for 15 years, where I teach English. I am passionate about poetry, Literature, music and travel. http://www.facebook.com/sarah.humphreys.980