Leaping into history in Firenze

Meandering along the cobblestoned pathways of medieval Firenze is akin to jumping feet first into a picturesque art history book, enabling you to traverse (and perhaps even converse) with the artistic geniuses of yesteryear.   Even if you haven’t a clue as to who Michelangelo, Botticelli, Dante or Machiavelli are, you will be besotted and mesmerized by the sheer magnificence of the incredible artwork that is virtually plastered all over this gem of a city.  Every nook and cranny is either ornately carved or painstakingly handcrafted by long gone artisans, their creative energies visually seeping out of any and all buildings that your eye happens to gaze upon.  Whether it be architect Filippo Bruneschelli’s masterpiece - the gilded dome and marble panelled cathedral in centrally located Piazza del Duomo - or a generations old family run trattoria, one cannot help being overcome with an achingly poignant sense that you are surrounded by the stuff that history books are made of.  It was this powerful yet intangible feeling that accompanied me on my promenades whilst in the birthplace of the renaissance.  Having studied medieval history, it felt as if the pages of my beloved books had miraculously sprung to life, gifting me the opportunity of a glimpse into an era that I had not been born into, but one which I had now become an integral part of. 

Ambling across dusty and ancient Ponte Vecchio, with its multitude of jewellery shops, food stuffs and tacky souvenir vendors, I pondered what it would have been like to be a medieval Florentine woman bartering for sustenance to feed her family.   Consumed by managing daily household tasks and grueling physical chores, was she oblivious to the stirrings and rumblings of emerging renaissance and humanist thinkers such as Francis Bacon, Erasmus and Copernicus,  whose achievements helped alter man’s perception of the world? 

Gazing across the Arno River on a star-lit night, I wondered whether that Florentine woman would have possibly been as wonder-struck by the twinkling stars as was the astronomer, Galileo, who perhaps was standing on the same bridge as her, transfixed by the yet to be discovered distant galaxies.

Had she any idea that DaVinci was about to portrait the Mona Lisa, or that Michelangelo’s “David” was on the cusp of emerging from a slab of yet formless marble?  Had she any inkling that the cobblestoned pathways on which she trod would one day be trampled by masses of humanity – from tourists to students to historians to stragglers – all eager to immerse themselves in the creative soul of Florence, hopeful that they too might be blessed with even a glimmer of the artistic genius that inspired the great renaissance thinkers?  

Or am I just getting way ahead of myself once again, lost in my thoughts, almost forgetting to appreciate the here and now, surrounded by the breathtaking beauty, wonder and architecture of magnificent Firenze?

Come leap into history and discover the renaissance in Florence with me….
Next week – What adventures lie ahead?  Stay tuned!!

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