This Writer Gal

Kakul Ehsan Butt

Florence: The City of Art

After my Roman adventure was over, I travelled to Florence. From the train window, the rustic charm of the Tuscan landscape gave me a taster of what to expect from this region. I felt a stab of regret that my time in Tuscany was limited to just Florence and Pisa. Looking out of the train window, I yearned to explore places in Italy where life has a slower pace. I yearned for lazy days, sitting outside, and eating delicious food on a big wooden table, while the Tuscan sun replenished my soul. I wanted to be in a place where my bedroom window had wooden shutters, and when opened, I would be greeted with sunbeams.

Tuscany reminds me of those Hollywood movies, where a protagonist travels to Italy in search for meaning of life or to find their long lost parent, who is most likely to be found wandering through the vast olive grove, fashioning a straw hat. The protagonist might then be inspired to write a sweeping love saga and somehow find an old dusty typewriter to begin their creative process. It is always under the Tuscan sun that our protagonist is at their creative best. Jealous much? I am.

Coming back to my trip, I chose Florence for the galleries, to see Michelangelo’s David and to enjoy a different city scene. I have a friend who lives in central Florence, and runs art classes. She took me to one of her classes, where I learned to paint with coffee. It was such a unique experience, and quite fitting thing to do in a city that reveres art. Hanging out with her showed me a different side to Florence; the one that doesn’t attract tourists. Like having coffee and dinner in places where locals hang out. I was fortunate to see both the touristy and local sides to Florence.

The pace here is much laidback than Rome. Here, I enjoyed walks alongside River Arno, feeling a quiet tranquillity of being near the water. From there, I could see Ponte Vecchio, one of the oldest bridges in the world. It is a pedestrianised bridge that joins two sides of Florence divided by the river. When crossing the bridge and wandering into random streets, I made interesting discoveries. One of which was the Buchette del vino, aka wine windows, which were very popular during the Renaissance period. Wine windows were a way for rich people to sell wine through small windows in the wall without having to open a shop and to avoid paying tax. Florence is dotted with wine windows.

Florence is a walkable city, with places of interest being within short walking distance from one another. Seeing the famous Duomo was utterly breathtaking. I don’t think I was prepared to take on the enormity of its size. When viewing from a distance, it looks quite dramatic, towering over other buildings. I would pass it every day and marvel at its beauty as if I was seeing it for the first time. There were some work being done when I visited in November, but it didn’t distract me from viewing this magnificient landmark.

When it came to saying goodbye, Florence had a hard time letting me go. I missed my train (even though I had been at the station for an hour) and then my next train was delayed by a few hours and then cancelled. Eventually, I managed to find another train. While enroute to my next destination, I was already making return plans. I don’t think I am quite done with Tuscany yet.

Until next time, Firenze.

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