There is nothing as life altering or heartwarming as when you finally live out a dream you've had since childhood and it is exactly how you imagined it. For me, this dream was Florence. I had wanted to stand at the foot of Michelangelo's white marble masterpiece David, since I was a little girl. To wander the streets that centuries ago master artists had wandered on a daily basis and soak up the atmosphere of their inspiration and get an idea of their daily lives. The feel of them. The essence of them, and it is overwhelming. Yes, I admit I may have hid behind my camera as I shed a tear of joy gazing up at David. He is spectacular.
But there is more to this city. The history, the culture, the epic battles of legend and of course the food meant that every day exploring Florence was full of wonder, beauty and had my heart bursting with joy. The streets held amazing architecture, old world charm and such a feeling of greatness that it's no wonder most people have to stop for a wee break sometimes. It literally can be breathtaking.
Where else can you see Hercules slay the centaur Nessus...in marble! Life size, on the street. He is in the amazing outdoor statuary Loggio del Lanzi that you can walk right into, for free, straight off Plaza Della Signoria where you've just marvelled at the fountain of Neptune where he is drawn on the back of four majestic white horses.
Or gaze upon Botticelli's Birth of Venus commissioned by Lorenzo de Medici. Not Lorenzo the Great, this cousin Lorenzo, not to be confused with his other cousin Lorenzo...geez so many Lorenzo's. But Lorenzo's aside, standing there immersed in the world of finely mixed colour, the delicate nuances of shade and the exquisite detail, you can understand why it took him two years to paint!
It's humbling. The detail, the mastery of one of histories greatest painters right before you so wonderful that you don't even realise the 50 other people around you crammed in for a look.
Let's not forget the worlds great minds congregated there as well. Why not hang out with Aristotle?
I did, although I must say, he wasn't too chatty but then again what did I expect from a marble bust. Somehow when you are in the midst of such greatness you kind of expect them to come alive and answer your questions. How marvellous would it be if he had.
Master carvers, painters, sculptures and thinkers of history were all there, in Florence, walking around the Duomo (the biggest church) on their way to work or passing the Museo Galileo which would one day house some of the world's finest examples of their work and draw hundreds of thousands of tourists a year to them. Just like me.
Housed under golden domed roofs of ornate patterned filagree that stop you in your tracks. Such beauty can behold the eye when you take a second to look up. So, you stand there getting a crink in your neck looking at the ceiling for ages while people bump into you but find that you feet won't move.
Yes, for me, Florence was a dream come true. I have never fallen so in love with a city. Normally, roaming the wild places or exploring the ocean is where you'll find me, not in a city, let alone a famous city with millions of people and loud tourists.
But like a sirens call, Florence had called to me for decades until it got too strong to ignore. To this day, it is my favourite city world wide and I love it so much that retiring there has crossed my mind. Well, to the Tuscany region just outside Florence where I can spend my days chasing the Tuscan light, painting in the countryside and enjoying a glass of wine with every meal like a true Italian.
Yes, my darling Travel Baggers this could be my future indeed. Even now, although no longer in Florence, I still feel the pull of it, of Tuscany, to return and bathe in that Tuscan sun surrounded by cypress trees, vineyards and amazing food.
I could paint fields of sunflowers in the summer, fields of red poppies in the spring and typical Tuscan landscapes like this one any time I pleased. Oh what a life.
A perfect life that speaks to my artists soul.
But, enough of that, you've caught me off in dreamland and there is more I want to show you.
Like Medusa's severed head held high by Perseus. It's ghastly, a little graphic, but a legend that has withstood the test of time and to this day has movies made about it and is known to most people on the planet so I thought I'd share it with you.
You will find this life-sized statue also at the Loggio del Lanzi outdoor statuary in the Piazza della Signoria. Flanked by the very symbol of Florence, the Medici Lion on either side, it's quite a sight to behold.
What amazes is the fact that yes, it's graphic, but aside from that, the anatomy is amazing. And yes, I took this picture from this angle to hide his hmm hmm ... you're welcome... but they are so accurate and life-like it's staggering. You can't help but stare at them and admire the masters clearly defined work.
Italy and especially Florence, has since medieval times held some of the most mind-blowing artistic masters of all time. If you are fellow art lover, I promise, you will not tire of taking a quiet moment to look at them.
Art is everywhere you go. Every Piazza, every street, every building and every church. The Duomo in the heart of town is a marvel. I mean, just look at this door. This is one, just one of the Duomo's many doors, surrounded by white and green marble.
The intricate carvings of the door itself would have taken years. Now look at the surrounds. Amazing right. When you are standing in front of them you can't help but to want to reach out and touch it.
It's mastery like nothing I've ever seen before. It astounds me that it is marble. Italy's famous white marble formed in giant mountainsides within an hour of Florence.
Imagine how heavy these great slabs of marble would have been, especially to transport centuries ago in a wagon pulled by horses or donkey's. Wow.
There is so much more I want to show you of Florence, or Firenze as they call it, but this post could go on for days. My passion for this part of Italy knows no bounds. I have travelled to the Swiss border in the north and fallen in love with Lake Como as well so prepare yourself for another spectacular post from Italy as I take you on a tour of the tranquil waters of Lake Como and it's quaint surrounding villages.
But until then, it's caio from me and the masters I so adore. I can't wait to share more of Italy with you and hope you will get the chance to stand at the foot of a masterpiece soon. Oh okay, here's one more Medusa before I go.. it's so horrific I can't help but look! Seriously, I can't stop.