Jess Rooney

A day trip to Florence

A tiny speck travelling along a rough surface.

Unaware, no… happily oblivious of the Universe that reaches out to uncharted isolation. 

Many eyes ignore the signs, too distracted by an instinctual function.

Seeking passage through its predecessor,

an endless ignorance of subtle alterations.

Blind by choice or blind by design.

They possess a discipline and we bear the burden of awareness. 

Which of us is the fool?

Three women stand in front of an archway that leads to their farewell. The sky above darkens. Ominous clouds cross over the suns gaze, a twin reflection of their faces.  The time for one to part ways with the others has come.  Hugs are exchanged with a smile but their eyes tell a truer story. She takes a step back and adjusts her bag straps for the last time before she walks away from this journey and onto another.  The two that remain watch as she walks away from the station and out of sight. A woman’s voice can be heard on the speakers perched inside the archway of the station. She calls her home.

One of the girls looks at her watch. With a fright, she realises they are late for their train. “RUN”!!!! With the burden of a heavy load on their backs, they both run past platform after platform searching for a number. The closer and closer they get to the right one the faster and faster the time passes. It runs with them mocking their efforts and laughing at the sweat the rolls down both their faces. They ignore its chants and push on. In front they finally see it. The sight increases their speed and their hope returns.  Rain begins to fall heavily down upon their backs. But no matter, they leap into the open doors of the train. They both flop onto the nearest chair, resting their heads on the window. Their breath steams up the window as they stare lazily out the rain outside that continues to increase in intensity. This only lasts a moment until their tired bodies wake suddenly. The cause? A beautiful display of nature reaching down towards the earth. Lighting hits the railway line right in front of their eyes. Both look to the other and move as one away from the window. A man’s voice is heard. It is distorted but they can hear his words.  “We will be arriving at Florence in three hours. Please take a seat.” A crackling sound signals the announcements end.  Three hours???? I believe we have gotten on the wrong train…

After getting off of train we started exploring straight away. As we only had the day to see everything Florence had to offer, we walked straight into the heart of the city. The first thing to catch my eye, well I think you can guess…

The Basilica di Santa Croce is the principal Franciscan church in Florence. For any of you that may be into gaming, it is also a significant structure in Assassin’s Creed II.  Not into gaming? Well, you might also have noticed it from the many films it has appeared in or the TV series ‘Hannibal’.

The building architecture is an incredibly beautiful sight to see. The shape of the structure gives it a character that seems to move with you as you circle its boundary.  The only downside… is that everyone else has been captivated by its beauty too. To enter its doors you must join a cue that moves like a snake around the entire building. The wait looked endless. So my recommendation is if you know you are going then book ahead of time or be left ageing in the cue with everyone else.



Giotto’s Campanile is a free-standing ‘Bell Tower’ that is part of the complex of buildings that makes up the Florence Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo.  As you can see it resembles the Basilica di Santa Croce’s architecture like a body part separated from its counterpart or for a less gross description, matching handbag and shoes.  Its looks are not the only features that match its sister. It too enjoys the presence of an endless cue that is destined never to shorten.

This church was once used as the chapel of Florence’s craft and trade guilds. On the ground floor of the square building are the 13th-century arches that originally formed the loggia (an architectural feature which is a covered exterior/gallery of the grain market. The Orsanmichele was for me the most interesting of the churches that decorated the city of Florence. I felt like this structure contained so much history and has had some many creative people pass through its aisles. The photo doesn’t do it justice but I felt it was wrong to take any more photos with its worshipers merely trying to practice their faith and seek solace inside its walls.

Lets set the scene

A man wearing a tailored suit greets another man as a friend. The other man wears a tired and worn out brown suit. He suddenly makes a phone call which alters the mood between them.  The well dressed older gentleman presses a button on a small projector which releases a new image on the wall behind the man in the old brown suit.  The image shows a man hanging from a rope. His name is clear for both to see, it reads ‘Francesco Pazzi’.

“It’s your ancestor, Commendatore. Hanging beneath these very windows. On a related subject, I must confess to you I’m giving serious thought to eating your wife”

From there the plot quickens. The man removes a soaked rag from his pocket.  Abruptly he attacks the other man and covers his nose and mouth with the rag until he falls unconscious. He awakes strapped to a dolly.

“What do you think? Bowels in? Or out, like Cousin Francesco”?

The older gentleman wheels the dolly containing the retrained man onto a balcony. The older gentleman releases the man from his restraints and then pushes him over the balcony railing and as he falls his bowels are released from their fleshy prison.

This jaw-dropping scene is one of many from the Hannibal Lecter franchise. A very scary and very alluring character that I have enjoyed watching cause mayhem wherever he dines.  You can visit the very location of this scene inside the presently named ‘Palazzo Vecchio’ located in the centre of Florence. But if you are a fan of the films there are many more spots to visit throughout Florence.

The Loggia dei Lanzi, also called the Loggia della Signoria, is a building on a corner of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence. There are many sculptures standing alongside each other but there were only a few that stood out to me. One was the Sculpture below which made me feel uneasy. I looked up at it and saw a woman being carried against her will and who seemed to be struggling to free herself from her captor. After researching it more I discovered that it is titled ‘The Kidnapping of the Sabine Women’. It is a depiction of the first generation of Roman men who abducted women from the neighbouring Sabine families and forced them to become their wives. The pain carved into her face affected me. I fell anything that evokes emotion in you even if that emotion is sadness, then the artist and its creation have accomplished its life’s purpose.

Giambologna created the statue below titled “Hercules and the centaur ‘Nessus’ back in 1599. his statue is based on Greek mythology. Nessus was a centaur that tried to steal Hercule’s wife by carrying her off across a river. Just as he was trying to steal her away, Hercules shot him with a poisoned arrow. As the Centaur began to die, he told Hercules wife that his blood would keep Hercules hers forever. After becoming jealous of a woman named ‘Lole’, Hercules wife rubbed the centaur’s blood on Hercule’s shirt. But the centaur’s blood was actually a poison and killed Hercules.

Piazzale Michelangelo is a square with a panoramic view of Florence. It is located in the Oltrarno district of the city. A Bronze copy of the famous sculpture ‘David’ created by the famous Michelangelo lives high up on the hilltop.

The sky darkened so swiftly it was as if someone reached their hand up into the sky crushed the sun. Clouds moved over every inch of blue sky hiding the universe from our gaze. In the distance, it looked as though the clouds were beginning to fall to earth. The stalls that once stood still and quiet eagerly awaiting the tourist that flocked around the bronze knees of David began to shake. Their keepers moved quickly, closing up the stalls and driving off towards the city. Thunder boomed overhead. Everyone looked upwards to find the source. The light flickered so brightly it breached the dark clouds that tried to block it from view.  They ran. Feet raced downwards covering two steps at a time. Rain burst down on the heads that tried to escape. But where would they find shelter?

For me, that shelter was a little pizzeria called ‘I Bastioni di San Niccolò Trattoria & Pizzeria’ (a bit of a mouth full). But I was not the only one to evade the storm there. Many others entered their doors with me and by the look on the faces of all the employees awaiting customers inside, I don’t think they were prepared for the rush. As I enjoyed a cup of tea and a piece of chocolate cake to pass the time until the storm calmed down, the waiters busied themselves making coffees and taking orders from the droves of customers now waiting. They looked a little frazzled but still maintained a smile. I would like to visit them again one day and I hope I get the chance to.

We returned to Rome that evening to bask in it its beauty for the last few hours before boarding a plane to Iceland the very next day. Here is where our trip to Europe ended and the next chapter of the journey began.

Have you ever been to Florence? What was your favourite memory of the city?

Jess x


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