Florence Smells like Flowers

We need to talk about Florence. It is known as the city of flowers, but I never imagined that it would actually smell like them too. But, as I sat at the second floor of a hop on, hop off bus, I struggled to hide my heavy breathing, scared that someone would mistake my attempt to take in all the scents of having trouble with my lungs. It would really be too bad if they had shipped me to the hospital, although judging by the rest of the city, it might just have turned out to be the most beautiful hospital I’ve ever been to.

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Beauty

I like to believe that I’m somewhat interested in art. Somewhat. I did successfully spend hours at the national gallery in Oslo, Norway, and I do like to draw. However, when I was faced with Florence all I could do was to admit that art is fine for a little while, but eventually my mind will wander to places I have long forgotten by now. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a great painting just as much as the next person would, but visiting the galleries in  Florence, I got this feeling that most of the works went way over my head.

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The only one I recognized was The Birth of Venus…

In addition many of them were surprisingly, at least to me, violent and macabre, and it honestly doesn’t take much before I’ve had enough of that. Perhaps I’m just not sophisticated (or hipster) enough to really appreciate the Renaissance artists. I’m more into other types of art – dance, drama, and, if paintings are to be involved, I believe I prefer the Romanticism (think landscapes).

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I stumbled upon a rehersal for an opra, which made me realize that I really want to attend one.

Florence is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. It’s preserved so well that, when looking at it, it seems from another time. As many of the settlements are indeed ancient, this makes sense. The sidewalks are made for one person (forever alone), and there are palaces, cathedrals and gardens popping up everywhere. When I say the latter I mean the kind of gardens that have been around since the 16th century and that you can get lost in if you’re not careful.

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The palace at the beginning of the gardens was once home to the Medicis- an insanely rich family from the 14th to the 17th century.

What makes all of this even more amazing is that the city still seems oddly up to date. It has somehow managed to incorporate new structures and modern opinions with its heritage-listed buildings and timeless art. Truly a city worth spending time in.

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Nothing Else Matters

I have to tell you about last night. I went to an open piano concert. My plan was to just stop by and then return to the appartment my family is renting from a local. I felt kind of out of it after hearing the shocking and horrible news of what happened in Florida, so I wanted to just stay in and watch the rest of the game between Italy and Belgium, which was on at the same time. However, when I got there I realized that I would miss the rest of the match.

Twelve pianos. I have no idea why there was a concert, who the pianists were, or what any of the italian they were speaking meant. First they played Mozart (during which I leaned over asking “do you think they are playing something famous?”) and other classic pieces, but it was when they started on the medleys, when they gave me Nothing Else Matters and Coldplay songs, that I closed my eyes and just listened. I sat next to old people and hipsters, tourists and locals, and it didn’t matter. Loving music is something everyone understands.

As we were all united by our mutual love, one of the pianists took the word. He cleared his troat and I expected more italian. However, what came out was broken English and he said: “thank you all for coming tonight to *italian, italian*, I want us to take moment, the world needs more love and openness. I think of the tragedy in Florida and all horrible happenings now.”

So, to everyone, and especially you Americans and the LGBT community, I want to say that the world is thinking of you and that we’ll be strong – together.

The City of Fashion

Milan. Milano. The world’s fashion capital and the moral capital of Italy. I had one day to check out what the rave is all about. Walking around, the Italians of Milan seemed to me to be very Italian – dark haired, relaxed, friendly and with a hint of dramatic. The citizens of Milan weren’t better or worse dressed than Italians elsewhere (in my opinion they’re all pretty well dressed). Perhaps I’m just not in the loop of where the fashonistas hang out these days.

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If you can’t find people, find food. Lasagne

On my way to one of the most popular tourist attractions of Milan, the Duomo cathedral, I spotted a lot of street artists. In Norway we generally have few of them, so I stopped and looked at nearly everyone. They create a certain atmosphere, and in lack of a better word I’ll call it energetic. It makes people smile, which I just love.

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Magic…?

Being the fifth largest Christian church in the world, it’s no wonder my first impression of the Duomo Cathedral was that it is massive. Rising to 108 meters and with more statues than any other church, it demanded my attention even from far away. As I came closer I took in it’s gothic style and realized the outside is so detailed that I could have looked at it for hours and still not have seen everything. Naturally I wanted to go to the top. I wanted to go inside too, but the queue was longer than endless. We’re talking hours, so that just wasn’t happening.

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Which was too bad, because if the outside looks like this, imagine the inside!

All in all, Milan has made a great first impression on me. I wish I had had more time to explore and get a feel for the city. However, as I am currently on my way to Florence, all I can do is say “Arrivederci, Milano!”

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The view from the top of the Duomo Cathedral.