We left Bologna in the mid-morning, stepping out of our hotel and into the sunlight. The air was still slightly chilled from a weekend of mists, but it was refreshing, not uninviting. A day for moving, for traveling, for going places and for absorbing where one had just been.
As always, confusion arose as to the direction of travel. Hanne insisted that as she had come by train, she knew best. Matt wanted to consult a map. I sat, waiting for the odd couple to finish their bickering, content to watch the day go about its business.
A direction was finally settled upon. Our suitcases sustained the abuse of cobbled streets, the kicking and scuffling inherent in a bus ride, and the last steps to the train platform.
The ride itself was uneventful. Matt and Hanne spent the time plugged into an iPod, their matching headphones amusing me enough to render them somewhat outrageously in my sketchbook.
Firenze itself was unimpressive at first, as probably most "ground-level" entrances are to unfamiliar cities. The train station was like so many before it, the streets the same, the cars, the crowds. Except that it wasn't quite true. The crowds were a proliferation of English-speaking people. It seemed obscene compared to the "true Italian" feel of Bologna, where without our stumbling knowledge of Italian, Matt and I would have starved. Ironic that in the city that was most revered for the pinnacle of Italian culture and art, we heard the most English.
A trip to the Duomo, a shoe store and a gelateri were on the itinerary. Neither Matt nor Hanne were in the most culturally-minded mood, and I saw no reason to complain. With a single day in Firenze, I was not at all inclined to wait in outrageous lineups for obstructed glimpses of beauty.
Having purchased ridiculously expensive sneakers, the likes of which I'd see far cheaper in Edmonton, Matt thought it best to sit and relax in the piazza before finding somewhere for an espresso. I left both him and Hanne sitting on the steps of the Duomo and walked the piazza and outlying streets at my own pace. I shot leisurely, almost conservatively, defying the bustle of the piazza, insulting the rush of the tourists. I waited for the sunlight to return, or the crowd to break. I stood and let the people move around me. I paused while those who are too busy for their own good busied themselves. I'd often thought that serenity comes through enjoying what one is passionate about. Firenze was just the start of that philosophy coming true for me.
I shot a great deal of architecture, signs, curiosities. Nothing really that struck me though. I walked back into the piazza, switched to my long lens, and waited.
And found this:
I only managed one frame before he pushed his bicycle along and was immersed in the crowd.