When I arrived in Florence in the summer, the sun was burning. The city was hot and sticky, crowded and busy, energetic and exhilarating. I wandered the streets in awe, falling in love with the atmosphere of excitement and wonder. It felt like a place where dreams come true.
Now the days are getting colder, and I layer on two cardigans and a warm coat before venturing out. I wiggle my fingers into my soft gloves as I take my morning cappuccino to a table outside in piazza Santo Spirito. This way I can enjoy the way the coffee cup warms my hands while I watch the turning leaves fall in the cool breeze. It may be cold outside, but my heart is warmed as I slowly drink and take in the festive atmosphere. The clamour of summer tourism has gone, shifting into a gentle chattering, though the excitement and wonder of the city remains.
As I meander around the streets in the evenings, I revel in the spectacular sunsets and early twilights. In England, the darkening days might feel gloomy, but here in Florence the fading light comes with a promise of beautiful sights and a city come to life. I watch from the Ponte Vecchio or Ponte Santa Trinita as the sky shifts between blues and oranges, pinks and purples, reflected on the rippling water below, and remind myself how lucky I am to be here as the seasons change and the Christmas cheer creeps in.
A glass of mulled wine from the Christmas market at Santa Croce warms my cheeks as I wander through the city at night. The wooden stalls waft delicious smells in my direction. Festive lights are going up and the glittering spectacles make my eyes shine. The elegant golden glow brightens up sights I have seen many times before, so they feel cosier, more comforting, and the experience feels new. As I walk down via Tornabuoni, the glittering trees draw my eye, while the sparkling strings of light gleam overhead. On via Roma, huge baubles are suspended above the street beside lights that appear to rain down, lighting up the street with wintery joy. Even darker backstreets are decorated with strings of twinkling lights, and shopfronts present displays in red, green and gold that are so enticing that you cannot help but stop to look.
As the holidays draw closer, I know that I was right when I arrived. Dreams really do come true here, and that dream come true is festive Florence, a city of bright and joyful beauty.