florence just before sunrise from piazzale michelangelo

Dormant and ready to be admired

ponte alle grazie at night.
ponte alle grazie at night.

It was roughly 4am when I came up with the brilliant idea to stay up and watch the sunrise from Piazzale Michelangelo. It was something we had talked about often, so at a quarter to six we slunked out of the apartment and onto the mood lit street towards Santa Croce.

At this hour, the usually bustling square was eerily deserted: the only movement now was the occasional drone of a sweeper truck and a city worker spraying down the steps of the church. It was a time for cleansing, rebuilding the city anew while the tourists slept – by the time they woke there would be no sign of last night’s festivities, of the refuse and the nonsense strewn about just hours before. The city would wake to its clean, composed self, for that was the face that Florence showed her public.

piazzale michelangelo
Piazzale Michelangelo

We marched over the abandoned Ponte alle Grazie the last souls on earth and made the grand climb up to the plateau. The Piazzale lay vacant, blanketed in fog – nothing but a humdrum parking lot without its masses. Only David remained, overlooking his empty kingdom, but even he, at this hour, had been forgotten.

Below, drenched in lush hues of indigo and adorned with droplets of gold, Florence remained dormant. With the grays and quintessential auburns of her structures pale, she passed for quaint even: so unlike her usual magnificent self. We watched and waited patiently for the sun to rise above her, but the veil of clouds refused to reveal even a hint of pigmented light.

florence just before sunrise from piazzale michelangelo
Florence just before sunrise from Piazzale Michelangelo

And so, soon only Florence remained, dignified, even in her sleep: her necklace of lights slowly flickering, her traffic belly beginning to stir. Her dormant self waking up as poised as ever ready to be admired – sunrise or not, ready for the show she put on everyday to begin.