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Scultura: Florence at night.

ITALY | Monday, 12 May 2014 | Views [626] | Scholarship Entry

Dec 29th 2013: Scultura.

The statue of Dante seemed to be eternally judgmental of the tourists parading the Piazza di Santa Croce in Florence. The mustard grey buildings wrapped around the piazza ejected into passageways, alleyways, and streets outwards in almost every direction. The people, however, all seemed to flow away from the piazza and the dead poet's sarcastic gaze in a single direction: they were headed towards the 'Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore'. The Dome. A Florenceian landmark and must-see attraction. I followed the tributary of tourists along a claustrophobic street and - as if by magic - the Dome seemed to appear out of nowhere. Florence is the only city in the world that can hide such a colossal structure inside its network of ancient, medieval streets. The tourists were instantly enamored by the Dome's complete disregard for subtlety. It was massive to the point that it made me nauseous with excitement, and my excitement was spurned further by a small group of buskers who sat on the Dome's steps and performed a heavily accented version of Ray Charles's 'Hit the road, Jack'. My neck craned up the building's campanile and my first thought was "I wonder if I could climb that?" followed almost instantly by the thought that I probably shouldn't.

Later that same night, I returned to look at the Dome under the impression that there would be fewer tourists and camera phones. I was correct, but the absence of tourists seemed to create a vacuum that had been filled by a frigid breadth of Tuscan winter. My neck was craned now to keep warm; but it was worth the cold. The rosin-black taciturn night sky highlighted the building and allowed me to examine each and every ancient inch of it. The building appeared to be sleeping as it sat reposed atop the cobbled streets.

Florence is a city that should be explored at night. The streets are relatively quiet apart from a few drunken revelers, and pairs of furtive lovers trying to find a dark corner. The size of the city’s historic center makes it easy to explore and walk through, and while it is mostly closed, it is infested with statues that are available to be examined at any time of day. I managed to find my way back to the Piazza di Santa Croce, and it was a completely different space at night. Well, almost completely different. Dante was still standing there, and still quietly judging the few of us up that late. And I am almost certain that the statue had pulled its cloak tighter to keep warm.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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