Early morning in Florence and not a soul in sight. I’d already been up to see the bronze version of Michelangelo’s David with its aged green patina on top of the hill overlooking the city. A slight chill in the air with a promise of intense July heat. Just the way I like it. I took this photo with a promise I had made to myself to follow the street back up to the Ponte Vecchio where I had fallen in love with a ring in one of the many jewellery shops housed on the ancient bridge on my way to visit the Green David.
I had stopped in front of the display window long enough to admire the ornate and delicate filigree beauty of the ring, but on seeing the price-tag I had reluctantly carried on walking. Except it was all I could think about for the next hour or so as I traipsed along the river and climbed the steep path up to the viewing point where my brother and my new map had told me Green David stood. He had visited Florence just a couple of weeks before.
However, I knew from experience that such impulses were designed to be followed, and had I not embraced that philosophy I would not have been in Florence at all. As reason fought with intuition I reminded myself that understanding why wasn’t necessary at that point. At some point it would make sense. Just as it had been with my desire to visit Florence, for the split second impulse that it had taken me to click on ‘book flight’ only weeks before, my visit had actually taken more than a generation to come to fruition. A love that had grown from a tiny seed sown in my early teens when I first began to learn Italian in earnest. Some might say that through blind faith I had stuck true to my dream, and was now seeing it truly unfold.
Besides it would be an early birthday present to myself, yes that worked. It would also come to serve as a reminder that I was about to journey home once again, but for me at that moment in time I was venturing into new territory unaware of the unfolding story that the ring would symbolise.
I returned to the shop, one of the few that had opened it’s heavily varnished aged wooden shutters when I had first passed by, just as the sun was beginning to make its presence felt at the start of this new day. Now all the shops were glistening with gold and sparkling jewels as their display windows flaunted their wealth enticing the many magpies now crowding one of the most famous icons of this most noble and important of European cities, as it had been for many centuries already. I took a deep breath, entered the shop, tried the ring on, paid and walked back out. There, I did it! Proud of my purchase and of having followed my impulse, beaming from ear to ear I continued to explore the streets, the grand houses and galleries of Florence, knowing that the following day I would be leaving to travel on to Venice, my true destination and the realisation of my dream, or perhaps the beginning of a new chapter as I would discover.
As I look at the photo of the disappearing street in Florence I realise that at the end of every street there is always more to explore and new impulses to follow full of promise and adventure. But unless you stop to take a snap and dream for a moment that opportunity may pass you by, none the wiser and perhaps less rich for not heeding the call to experience something new, or at least long forgotten, and wonderful.
It wouldn’t be the first time that I would be exploring what should have been familiar territory, but for the sake of a new body and new eyes it seemed like something new, drawn to experience it by inexplicable impulses, like a tangle of wires that would with gentle teasing begin to unravel with time, to switch on a new light with each unthreading, and with that ignite memories new and old full of colour and enchantment.