After a marvelous two days touring the sights of Siena and Venice, Mr. Travelbypoints was brimming with excitement at the prospect of finally exploring the city that inspired our trip – Florence. Just weeks prior to our departure, he managed to locate hard copies of his entire winter term coursework in Florentine Architecture and uploaded scans of each essay to his trusty ipod (for my benefit of course – yay for me!). The plan was to first visit the Duomo, the magnificent cathedral located in the historic center of Florence, and then pay a visit to the mecca of Renaissance art – the Uffizzi Museum – in the late afternoon. Everything else in between, we’d play it by ear.
When we arrived at the Duomo, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the only guided tour of the day was about to start just minutes later. Along with one other group – a family of 4 from Australia – we quickly bought our tickets and marveled at the providence of our timing! Our tour guide, a lovely petite Italian brunette originally from Sicily, led us down the spacious nave and pointed out the symbolism of the art adorning the altar and ceiling of the grand cathedral. She then led us through a private entrance off to the side and we soon found ourselves slowly ascending the winding steps up to the top of the dome!
When we finally reached the end of the narrow passage way (my teenage alter ego was about to make an appearance and ask how much farther), our guide threw open the heavy door and we were greeted with a welcome breath of fresh air. The steps were soon forgotten when we caught sight of the magnificent city view laid out before our eyes. From high atop the Duomo, the panoramic view of Florence once again took our breath away (just when we had recovered it after the laborious climb). At this point, our gracious host took leave of our small group and entreated us to take our time and enjoy the view.
Left to ourselves, Mr. Travelbypoints whipped out his pocket map of Florence and proceeded to locate all the points of interest we would be visiting later that day – the Uffizzi, the Ponte Vecchio, the Palazzo Vecchio and the Piazza Michelangelo. Admittedly, I was slightly less exuberant than he to pick out all the landmarks in the visual landscape before us (I am also more directionally challenged). Instead, I was struck by how animated my husband was and how excited he was to be standing high atop a city he had dreamed about for over 10 years. In many ways, it reminded me of the history of the majestic dome behind us – built over 100 years after the church was finished. I can think of no greater leap of faith than designing a cathedral with a dome so big you have no way to technically build it and building it anyways with the faith that one day someone will come along and complete it. It all starts with a dream and a little bit of faith.
As we started to make our way down the cathedral steps, ready to explore the rest of Florence, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What if Mr. Travelbypoints hadn’t gotten an A+ in that winter term Florentine Architecture class?” (which would have ruined his perfect record). I’d probably be lounging on the beach in Hawaii instead of skipping down the quaint cobblestoned streets of Florence with a full day of walking ahead of me. Good thing my husband was such a stellar student. I could think of no other place I’d rather be.