Across the long gentle valley the church bells ring. They call, echo, reply, above low red-tiled roof tops. The bells sound across centuries fresh with the excitement of the first moments of light, then dwindle and drift into motionless sleep whence they had begun, with lazy occasional sounding. A Florentine evening begins.
In the light of the late afternoon sun, in the quiet between the call of bells, ancient brown stone towers cast long shadows onto weather worn volcanic hills and the flowers of spring. Gleaming in the afternoon sunlight is the brilliant white, brown and red marble facade of the Duomo. The light is amplified by its brilliance. Duomo, is ever-present, unavoidable, dominant, central, a focus.
At the border of valley, hill and setting sun there is grey cloud which streaks diagonally to the ground. Rain, the moisture of the day, finding its way back to the earth whence it came, unheard rain on the distant side of the city.
The sun on my face is perfectly warm, the air perfectly, cool, refreshing, it blows from the shade, through the leaves of olive trees, and through my hair, thence across the green park to the cream houses and red roofs.
I view all from the garden, Giardino Di Boboli, the park, the back yard of the Medici family palace, Palazzo Pitti, the other end of the escape route, across the Ponte Vecchio, from the offices, the Uffizi, now the famous art museum. I view all from where it was seen, at the birth of the Renaissance, and see only the old, as the new is hidden in ancient design. This is the Renaissance.
It is perhaps due to this one family, on whose property I stand, that credit for the Renaissance can be given. It was with their influence, philosophical and financial, that gave exiled scholors and artists a haven to create, a safe place to do what they so longed to do. From this place, Florence, Italy the world has heard influence of brilliance such as Dante Alighieri, seen the unnecesary stone fall before the sculpture of Michaelangelo, looked freshly upon the motion of the heavens with Galileo Galilei, and walked with the Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli. These great men are honored in the Santa Croce church, their tombs, their final rest is here where their genius was nurtured.
I look out over the city, and think of the grand complexity of the minds that rose from this place, yet beneath me, at the base of the steep terrace wall where I stand, there is the marvel of simplicity, whence it all begins. A young boy of four years tills the soil, copies the work of his father across the yard. Blonde hair, Italian olive skin, he glances over his shoulder towards his father, to see if his father is looking, to check what his father is doing, and is content in that his work will make his father happy. The young boy toils with enthusiasm, it is not work, it is love.
The bus has huge windows in the back, and I watch all of life pass behind me as it climbs the hills. On the streets that lead out of the city to our villa outside of town on the hillside, which looks down upon the red roofs, where cream houses and green countryside blend.
Fruit trees, olive trees, bear tiny prospects of that which they will offer later, when ripe. Purple iris line the pathway to wisteria archways, lead into a labyrinth of hedges in private gardens.
The work shed in the garden is old brick and cement. Seated under an arched doorway is a tattered wooden door, ajar. Inside worn handles on hand made ladders and tools, reveal years of hands leaning against years of trees, farming bushels of olives and fruit. A small semicircular window faces the valley and Florence. From six miles away, the entire city frames amongst the brick and green vines.
The arch, the vines, the man working the field on the side of the hill, amongst the olives, is a view that transcends time, ageless. The gardener tends the trees, works the soil. The church bells follow, never end, ring forever through valley, uniting the world with their melody, the ring flows up the valley. All sound joins together, travels together, journeys on the back of the wind, rustling the leaves, the trees, on the isolated terrace, on the outskirts of Florence.