Just as I knew I would, I did return to my beloved Florence the following year. I went at about the same time of year (in November) and was able to spend my birthday with my new Florentine friends. No birthday dinner alone that second year in Florence.
Angelo and Manuela took me to a wonderful restaurant on the eve of my birthday last year. I met them on the steps of Santa Croce so that we could walk to the restaurant together. I so much wish that I had a photo of the two of them standing on those steps waiting for me. The image is so vivid in my mind that at times I think I do have a photo of it–and then I realize that I do not. The image is just that clearly imprinted in my mind.
This is Santa Croce-
I spotted my friends as I crossed the piazza that you see in the photo. Manuela was holding a small bouquet of gorgeous orchids. My friends just looked so beautiful standing there on the steps of Santa Croce.
My trip this time was five nights longer and I was able to learn the city and venture outside of it much more than the first year.
I wandered the streets of Florence endlessly. I visited so many cathedrals and museums. I started to understand how very much I loved the art of the Renaissance. I had been an art and art history student in college, but once I stumbled into the corporate world, I forgot about those loves. Florence helped me find them and to honor and nurture my artistic side once again. It took me awhile to find that side of myself again, but I am so much more fulfilled and at peace thanks to the beautiful city that I had found my way to two years ago.
I just today ran into this quote in an on-line publication called The Florentine. It states it so beautifully…
“the beauty and severity with which this city changes you, is evident and radiated through your new being, for you do not choose Florence: she chooses you. And though not as evident and overt as the intricately colored artwork you fashioned, there will be a new breath of life, a new crispness to your existence, a newfound appreciation for a life that is meant to be lived.”
I give thanks for the day that Florence found me.