I had to run. I had to get out of the heat. It was 111 that day, which meant it was worse than that in our apartment. The showers ran warm. Cooking made things worse. I put on my sneakers and tied my big, awkward Italian key to my shoe through the laces. I ran out through the crowds, out past the Uffizi and the people waiting for the perfect sunset. I ran down the river under the streetlights. I crossed the Arno and climbed up past the rose garden, up to the Piazzale and stopped to catch my breath as the view took it away. Florence, glowing yellow and blue and orange and purple in the valley below, cradled by the surrounding hills. The Duomo sits heavy in the center, no question it is the masterpiece in this open museum of architecture. I jog back down the hill slowly, making my way back across the Arno, the tourists stopping for gelato, to take pictures, to gaze at the city around them.
The music starts to hit me as I turn toward the water, and it echoes in the arches under the Ponte Vecchio. I turn into the Uffizi and the wave of music hits me, and at the end of the piazza, under the Loggia, an entire orchestra was mid-performance. I stood next to women in silk dresses and high heels, and tourists in flip flops and iPads blocking their faces from seeing what they were trying to capture to remember later. I stood in my sneakers and I listened to an orchestra float around this gorgeous piazza. And Florence grew on me.