FC: If Only For a Moment A Day in Renaissance Florence | Written by Cate Tolnai
1: As I woke in my small room in the countryside of Italy, I felt my stomach churn in anticipation. Today my sister, Sylvia, and I were going into Florence to run errands, and I knew exactly where I wanted to go. My house wasn’t too far outside of the city limits, and sometimes at night Sylvia and I heard the faint cries of city life as Florentines celebrated their good cheer, full bellies, and heavy pockets. Life in the city seemed like the most exciting way to live!
2: Sylvia shook me and whispered, “Ready or not?!” a familiar wake-up call I heard from her just as the sun crossed the horizon each day. I could tell that Sylvia was just as excited and I was, and I hoped that she would allow me to visit the spot I loved so much. No one in my family knew how much I adored Il Duomo, the beautiful dome that rests atop the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral right in the center of the city. The most sacred place I could imagine standing in the entire world was directly underneath the center of the dome – I always feel like I am at the center of the universe. Today, I was determined to stand in just that spot if only for a few moments. Sylvia had other plans.
3: “Giovanni! It’s time to go! We want to beat all the other people to the Mercato Nuovo so that we can get the first pick of the goods. Mother would be so happy to know that we secured the tastiest fruits and spiciest herbs in all of Florence. Don’t you want to make her proud?” she asked as she hurriedly wrapped herself in her dress and tied her hair back. Big sisters always move faster than younger brothers – especially in the morning.
4: I poured out of bed and sluggishly slipped on my shirt and pants. As I yawned, I caught a glimpse in the mirror and saw how my hair had bent in the night. This was no way to visit Il Duomo, especially if anyone in the famed Medici family happened to be in the Palazza Vecchio, their home very close to the Cathedral. I combed my unruly hair down and scampered out of the room following Sylvia in toe. If I stayed close to her now, perhaps she would trust me to go on my side adventure to Il Duomo later on.
5: As the two of us headed down the road, I took in the beautiful rolling hills and interested vendors that marked the path on either side as we neared the Arno River. Sylvia kept looking at her list of supplies that Mother had sent her with. We could soon smell the adventure in the air, and as we ran across the bridge we heard the cry of a trade boat underneath. We knew that the morning’s shipment had arrived and time was running out before the best goods would be taken. “Hurry, Gio!” Sylvia yelled, and we both began to pick up our steps.
6: I couldn’t help but be distracted by the amazing sites. The palazzos and cafés smelled of warm, freshly baked bread. My stomach grumbled as Sylvia pulled my hand without the slightest recognition of my hunger.
7: As we neared the Mercato Nuovo, the crowd thickened, and I figured that this was as good a time as any to sneak away and have my moment in Il Duomo. So, as Sylvia bent down to tie her shoe I skipped away in the direction of the Cathedral, hoping that she would be busy shopping and not have time to worry about me.
8: I moved quickly through the familiar streets and even though the sights were glorious, I had my focus set on Il Duomo. Even from that distance, I could see the gleaming dome and my heart beat at an unruly pace. Just as I was about to step over the entryway, I felt a sharp yank on my right shoulder. “Owwww!” I yelped and turned around to see Sylvia glaring down at me.
9: “How dare you sneak away, little Gio. I’ve been chasing you for blocks and blocks. And for what?! Hmm? What will mother say?” “Sylvia, this is my favorite place in all of Florence. I had to spend a moment or two inside. Please come with me. Please let me stay and show you what lies inside,” I begged her.
10: She agreed, having a look of irritation in her eye. She is always so thoughtful of her schedule that I doubt she ever has time for fun. This would show her! And sure enough, the second that I brought her to my spot directly under the center of the dome, I said to her, “Sister, look up. Breathe in. Let this place inside of your heart.” I heard her gasp as her eyes shifted and her head tilted back.
11: “Gio, this is magical! Why haven’t you ever taken me here before?” Sylvia exclaimed.
12: “Taken you here?!?! You never have time for this type of stop,” I protested. “But you must MAKE me take the time, Gio. This is too beautiful to pass up,” she reassured me.
13: So, as we walked back through the city and after we completed our errands, I leaned against her shoulder and whispered, “Sometimes, Sylvia, you have to slow down to let your imagination speed up.” She looked down and me and smiled, and we made a promise to go back to Il Duomo every month, if only for a moment.