I do not remember when I fell in love with Italy, as it goes back such a long, long time ago. Wherever I go there, granted for short visits, I seem to come across beautiful places, good food and friendly people.
A number of years ago, we found a sweet spot to spend some time during the summer, in Tuscany. This year, we decided to go back after a break of a few years.
The straight line which spans between Pisa and Florence is full of amazing places to visit. Pisa is of course famous for its leaning tower.
If you travel inland on that straight, you will stop in Lucca, charming city inside a spectacular moat.
When we took a stroll inside the city, I stopped at the San Cristoforo church, where an interesting exhibition called “Dinner for two” by an American artist called Rachel Lee Hovnanian was displayed.
Traveling East, you now arrive in Florence, with all its magic.
Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral is the highlight of the city, with its rich adornments.
The minute details, wherever you look, are unfailingly impressive.
Its Duomo by Brunelleschi is, for me, one of the world’s wonders. Designed in 1436, it features a double cupola. It must have been an engineering ordeal.
This means that if you wish to go all the way to the top, you will have to wiggle your way through between the two. What a piece of art. Its sheer size, colors, all contribute to make a lasting impression.
Whether you look at it from up close or far away, in broad daylight or at night time, it is nothing short of spectacular.
On this trip, however, we got the strong message that this year is like no other. Italy is on the forefront among countries suffering from Covid 19, and my visit unfortunately confirms it.
Most foreign visitors did not show up.
And people are suffering greatly from it.
Italy always stands for flair and chic.
Yet, in current times, the situation is much more difficult.
There were few European visitors, and most American or Asian tourists (especially Chinese) did not come. For locals, the impact is huge. Luxury hotels and shops, as a for example, remained closed for the Summer season after having closed down during the confinement period, promising to, possibly, reopen in the fall, when Florentines should be back from the seaside.
Yet, for the photographer in me, it was also a great opportunity. The city has so much to offer, especially at night.
But Florence needs our support to keep the magic alive. More generally, we need to take our survival in our own hands. Governments, with few exceptions, have, in my opinion, shown little ability to anticipate in the first place and to manage the pandemic thereafter.
We must go out and rekindle the economy. Jewels, such as Florence, need us, visitors, to come and spend time (and money) there, as soon as it becomes possible to do so again.
Otherwise, we will dig our own grave, and all that beauty will suffer even more.
We must not let Florence’s lights go off. I’ll be back!
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