I have arrived in Florence. It is in the middle of the night, and everything is dark. This is my third visit to this city, and I feel it bids me a warm welcome even though it is dark and silent.
It is hot here. It is one of these special summer nights where Florence is magical and enticing. The city invites me to slide through its old narrow medieval streets.
I begin the walk to my hotel – I am at the train station, but my goal, the hotel, is on the other end of the city center.
The first thing I notice is that tonight the city is unusually quiet. I rarely hear a car pass by, and there are only very few people in the streets. This intensifies the experience.
I turn down one of the small alleys. All apartment doors, restaurants, ice-bars and other shops are closed. This tell me that the city is asleep. I can feel it still keeping track of me.
While walking I look down a small street – at the end I can see the heart of the city. This heart is the amazing cathedral, the Duomo. I see its white marble facade and a small part of the big dome.
I stop. The city whispers to me: ”The dome is an architectural masterpiece” – ”No one could build such a big dome before the architect Brunelleschi reinvented ancient building principles.”
I walk down the street, and the closer I get to the cathedral, the more fantastic it is. And the most amazing thing is that I have it almost to myself.
The silence is broken by a scooter that flashes by. Even that fits very well – without scooters this would not be real Italy.
I step onto the pavement and watch the scooter and its driver. He stops at the nearest cafe – sits down at the nearest table, and drinks an espresso with a dark haired girl – they kiss, and after a few minutes they elegantly mount the scooter and continue into the night. Nighttime in Florence is romantic.
I proceed. The city guides me through its narrow streets and alleys.
In front of me I see a huge tower. ”Once upon a time we had lots of towers,” the city tells me. ”And people fought internally between towers. The large tower right ahead was a prison from which people were hung, or simply thrown out.” The city is trying to scare me, but it is not working.
The tower presides over the square Piazza del Signoria. The tower is on top of the big Palazzo Veccio, the old town hall. It is extremely peaceful here. The many sculptures on the loggia bid me welcome to Florence, and around the corner lies the famous art museum, The Uffizi Gallery, which is among the best art museums in the world.
Unfortunately I must move on, but I could sit here forever and admire this wonderful square.
The city smiles at me – it is as though it is saying ”this way”. As I move along I feel as though I was back in the Renaissance where famous artists such as Michelangelo, Donatello, Boticelli were given an artistic refuge here by the powerfuk Medici-family, who ruled the city.
Art flourished in Florence in that time and made it one of the leading cities of the world.
Right ahead lies Santa Groce – another large church. In front of the church Dante is standing, or more accurately a statue of him. He does not look happy, but still bids me welcome to Florence, his own hometown from which he was exiled. Under his arm he carries The Divine Comedy, one of the world’s most famous books. I pull up my copy of his book from my backpack and show it to him – he nods in approval.
I continue my walk, and is close to my destination.
The hotel is closed, and while I look for the access code to the door, the city again speaks to me. ”I don’t speak to humans every day” it says. ”But I want you to tell everybody you meet, that it is very special to experience me at night.”
”I will,” I promise the city. I enter the access code to the door. My key and a small welcome card lies on the reception desk, and behind it stands the big espresso machine, and the entire atmosphere oozes of Florence and Italy.
I stick out my head of the door, and once again promises the city to recommend to all I meet, to take the time for a walk through Florence in the night, and that they should take time to breathe in and experience the fantastic mood of the city.
I look forward to each of my vacation days in the company of Florence.
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