Historical Impressions II

History as Religion In a secular age that is bereft of the overwhelming, sweeping influence of religion, a gap is left behind that needs filling. Whilst the overthrow of religion is a necessary evil for the sake of a liberal, scientific, democratic society, it nonetheless deprives us of a many numinous needs. And I’m not…

The City Where Narcissus Blooms

A flowering cathedral   The full name of Florence’s Duomo – or cathedral – is the Santa Maria del Fiore. It is one of the most imposing buildings you’re ever likely to see in Europe. It feels like a Herculean Tetris puzzle crowned by the red-brick masterpiece of Brunelleschi. Beauty tends to attract beauty. Or…

The Happiness Diaries

The flag bearing the fleur-de-lys waved dementedly over the still river. The muted buildings over the Arno were all painted in the uniform colours of sunrise. A kayak rowed past as if sailing through thin air. Where the sun rose over the hills there descended a veiling haze. It was Christopher’s last day in Florence….

Ponte Vecchio Poems

The process of appreciating a city doesn’t always follow a love-at-first-sight model. First impressions are not always the most lasting. Florence needs some time. It can be hard to love a city when you’re surrounded by group after group of tourists using their Yoga experience to bend over into odd positions to take the fifth…

Firenze: A Gallery of Faces

What a waste of time it is to take selfies in Firenze. Don’t do it. I’m sure you’re beautiful, I’m sure you’re mother’s little flower. But no matter how much you pout or pose, sorry to break it to you, you will never be Michelangelo’s David or Botticelli’s Venus.   There’s a lot of things…

An Existentialist Day in Firenze

If you had a day in the Tuscan capital of Firenze – let’s by all means call it by its local name, it’s one of those places that sound better in the local tongue – and you had to choose between spending it shopping or sightseeing: what would you do? I know what you’re thinking….