After a train, a plane, another two trains, and a bus that made an unpredictable detour, I made my way from Paris to Florence. I was exhausted, but taken right away by the alleyways and the cafes. If I were still in a bit of daze in Paris, by this point I was starting to discover how liberating solo traveling was, as I kept surprising myself by how effortless it was to live in the moment. My time there seems a little distant now, but a lot of moments still jump out at me and make me feel just as I did then:
- Seeing the Duomo in its entirety was breathtaking. After putting my bags down at my Airbnb, I rushed towards the Duomo as the sun was setting. I could quickly catch a peek of it, as you could from every direction of town, because the tower was so majestic. But seeing it along the way did nothing to prepare me for the overwhelming emotions I felt when I stepped into the open space beside it. I knew right away that this was one of those special feelings that epitomized the reason I wanted to go on this trip.
- It was raining one afternoon I was there. I lied on the bed next to an open window so I could listen to the rain while reading a book. The curtains were flowing gently from both the wind outside and from the fans of my AC-less apartment. When it stopped raining I decided to go to a yoga class. The teacher seamlessly switched between English and Italian. It both impressed and confused me since I hadn't taken yoga classes from too many different instructors. She helped me do my first headstand which left me feeling ecstatic. After class I got some gelato and ate it on the steps of a piazza while continuing to read my book.
- On my last full day in Florence, I woke up to the sad news that our family cat in China had passed away at 15 years old. I would have been able to see him in three weeks! It didn't help that it was a gloomy and rainy day. I cried in my apartment and then tried not to cry while having a cappuccino at a cafe. I still made my way to Basilica of Santa Croce, the church where Galileo and Michelangelo were buried. This turned out to be my favorite sightseeing spot. It was certainly the least crowded. It was so surreal to be the only person standing in front the actual tomb of Michelangelo just two days after I marveled at his David. I felt the weight of history all around me.