During a walking tour of Florence, I was told, “If Michelangelo and the Medici family were to come back to Florence today, they would still be able to find their way around because the streets have not changed.”
I found this fascinating. To think that nearly 500 years have gone by, and the streets I walk on every day have barely changed? In those 500 years, entire eras have shifted, control of the city has changed multiple times, and countless people have walked where I have.
Every city around the world has a history, but when living in Florence, the history is not just something of the past, it is completely relevant now.
I walk outside and pass the Basilica of Santa Croce, which was built in 1294 AD and is the largest Franciscan church in the world. It is a “casual” sight I walk by on my way to classes.
Another few minutes of walking takes me past The Bargello. The Bargello was built in 1255 and used as a prison at the time, but is now an insightful museum which conveys hundreds of years of history to its visitors.
For a day of exploring, or if I simply want to see another beautiful sight in Florence, I find myself at the Ponte Vecchio. This was built in 1345 and is the only bridge in Florence which was not bombed by German forces in World War II, making it an iconic gathering place for tourists and Florentines alike.
These are very “normal” places for me to see, and as they consistently impress the world, I am sure I take them for granted.
As I walk through Florence, past these places, I frequently notice the stone which has been there for so long. I notice the uneven sidewalks which were added delicately because preservation of the narrow streets is important. I occasionally notice the smell of the sewers, not because the city of Florence isn’t clean (which it is), but because a city which is thousands of years old can require a very difficult and detailed plumbing system.
When visiting Florence, people see the historical parts and try to learn as much about the city as possible, as they should. It is quite unique, however, to be living in that same place. I do not visit these places as often to simply look at them.
Instead, I see, walk, breathe, and live them.
The world awaits…discover it.