Serendipitous Traveler: The Light of Florence

I found myself in the heart of Florence, walking down an ancient, dimly lit pedestrian street just moments before the magical gloaming, when the sinking sun would bathe the city in liquidy shades of gold, bronze and copper.  (Apropos colors, when one remembers that Florence was once the financial center of Europe.)

Florence is a magical city in any light, but during the gloaming it appears more beautiful and more mysterious.  Shadows deepen, elongate, shading the city in slightly sinister tones.  The air appears as gauzy as a shroud.  Streetlights flicker to life, creating otherworldly halos around the heads of the statues standing sentry in the piazzas.

It takes little effort to imagine a Medici woman, ensconced in a voluminous cloak, her face partially concealed by her hood, slipping down an alley to meet an old crone hawking deadly nightshade. 

What secrets do the shadows hold?  What demons does the light keep at bay? 

Visiting and resident voyeurs surely experience orgasmic delight as the darkening world affords them unhindered views into salons, shops and even private residences.  I confess to playing the role of the voyeur, peeking into an apartment aglow from the light of a spectacular chandelier, wishing I could join the fabulous people dining beneath it. 

Instead, I snapped my secret shot and moved on, slipping in and out of the shadows with the skill of a Medici or Borgia.

As the evening faded to black, I stood in a candlelit wine bar, savoring a tart, full-bodied Chianti, and noticing the way the ruby liquid rolled in my glass.

Basking in the Light of Florence:
  • Catch some rays, sip a cappuccino, and take in a spectacular panoramic view of Florence atop the Hotel Hermitage on Vicolo Marzio.  One of the hotel's friendly employees invited me to visit the rooftop even though I wasn't a guest of the hotel.  "You simply must see Florence from above," she urged.  "The light is spectacular."  She was right.  *Notice the contrast between the cobalt sky and the terracotta roof tiles.
  • The Haunting Florence Tour, an evening walking tour offered by ArtViva, is a great way to view the architectural wonders and learn the hidden history of Florence.  The tour begins shortly before the gloaming and culminates after dark.  I highly recommend this tour for anyone visiting Florence, but particularly those who have an interest in history or an appreciation of light.  *Notice the way the transformation the city undertakes as day fades to evening.
  • Take a cruise down the Arno River in a traditional barchetto with Viator's River Cruises.  *Notice the way the light shimmers off the river and highlights the brightly colored buildings.
  • Stroll over to Via del Campanile angolo via delle Oche and sample the creamy goodness of Grom Gelateria's gelato and then head to the Piazza del Duomo.  *Notice the juxtaposition of the varied architectural facades and the way the sunlight slants into the piazza at sharp angles.

Florence in the Gloaming
by Leah Marie Brown
This shot was taken just moments before the street
lights flickered to life, giving the charming
alley a slightly sinister look.

Hound of Hell
by Leah Marie Brown
This hound stands guard in a private
courtyard in the heart of Florence.  The ancient Romans
and Greeks regarded the dog as a magical animal
with the power over life and death.

by Leah Marie Brown
I spied this chandelier hanging in a second
floor apartment in Florence.  I could
not resist snapping a picture of it.

Pretty in Pink
by Leah Marie Brown
I took particular delight in viewing Florence's
shop windows.  These sweet little pink
gowns made me smile.

by Leah Marie Brown
ArtViva's guide, the charming Stefan, pouring a local
vintage after sharing his prodigious wisdom about

by Leah Marie Brown
Mounds of gelato create a delicious rainbow in a
gelateria in Florence.

by Stephanie Mounts
The author enjoying a chocolate and
coconut gelato cone from the world
famous Grom Gelateria in Florence.

by Leah Marie Brown
Sunlight highlights the terracotta
tiles on the roof of the Duomo.

by Leah Marie Brown
The varied facades of the buildings around the
Duomo provide an intriguing juxtaposition.
by Leah Marie Brown
A tower in Florence, lit at night.
David and the Lion
by Leah Marie Brown
Taken at night using a slow shutter speed, this
statue of a lion looks like it is about to
devour David.
Stalked by Shadows
by Leah Marie Brown
A statue appears to be stalked by
ominous shadows.  Florence.

A Roof with a View
by Stephanie Mounts
The author enjoying the Florentine
skyline on a bright, late summer day.




Stephanie Mounts said...

Your Photos are simply stunning. A great synopsis of how beautiful Florence is, and I liked the tips too!

Leah Marie Brown said...

Grazie Stephanie!

Anonymous said...

You're an artist with your words. You really do paint beautiful pictures.