It was too hot yesterday. Too hot to step on the pavement, too hot to water the tomato plants – wilting under that infamous Tuscan sun. It was too hot for Stitch to go out and too hot for me to want to do anything except eat freeze pops that thankfully also exist in Italy – a little piece of my childhood that I can still have here – sipping flavored ice out of a tube of plastic.
We walk at night now. Roaming the streets on the outskirts of the city, half of the windows are shuttered tight, the tenants already abandoning ship as the humidity starts to descend, escaping to the Mediterranean breeze on the coast – at least for the weekend, if not the whole summer. We walk up the hill to the top of the park – where there’s a breeze from the valley and the center of Florence lights the skyline in a flourish – spotlights set to ignite the colors of those old bricks and terracotta, even in the dead of night.
Tonight, there’s the whine of a trumpet underneath the roar of the passing scooter on the street behind me, and when the traffic finally dies down, I can hear piano music floating up from the park below. It’s normally closed after 8pm, and at this point, it was well past ten, but as we walked down the street as the music got louder, so instead of going home to the AC, we went to explore.
The hidden drive to the park that sits on the opposite side of our street was still dark, but the metal gates had been thrown wide open. Down on the main lawn of the garden, the lamps were still on – creating pools of light on the park paths. Rounding the Cyprus trees, silhouettes began to appear. Closer still, and in the pools of light of the lamps, couples danced and people sat on the grass, sprawled out in front of the Loggia, built in 1911 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the unification of Italy.
Under the illuminated arches of this stage, like a live painting against the midnight-blue canvas of the evening sky, a Jazz band played – their instruments gleaming under the spotlights. The crowd wasn’t large – it felt private, cozy, a community. Kids with their hands full of melted ice-cream ran through the grass to the open space on the outskirts of the park – playing tag with each other and the darkness. A few more wandered in from the front gate, not expecting a concert this Friday night – I certainly hadn’t. Italy has surprises. Happy surprises that fill days and nights with a bit of magic and make your predetermined schedule go haywire – but really, who is complaining?
I sat down with my little dog on the grass and watched the scene from the shadows – just another silhouette in the night enjoying the music.