About ten years ago, I received a 5000 piece puzzle for Christmas. “Florence on the Arno” it was called, and it was a sight. The image depicts Florence in the springtime with blooming flowers in the foreground framing the city. Unfortunately, at the time, the puzzle was just too difficult for me. After months of work, I only managed to complete the city section. Then, I could progress no further. Eventually, I packed it away unfinished, full of regret. Through the years, my mind would return to that incomplete masterpiece, and I would think about it sitting in the closet gathering dust. Such a shame, I would lament.

IMAG0872It would be as if Michelangelo had abandoned the Sistine Chapel project having deemed the task too vast, arduous, and complex.

So I vowed to someday complete my task as well. Meanwhile I dreamed and dwelt on the city. I didn’t know much of Florence then, but the cityscape never left my mind. Because of that puzzle I learned. I wanted to know the story behind each building that beckoned mysteriously from that photo.

I first learned of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. Arnolfo di Cambio conceived the initial design in 1296 but died long before the project could really get underway. The cathedral lay unfinished and neglected for 30 years until a new succession of artists and architects took up the crusade. Finally in 1436 the cathedral was completed nearly 150 years after the first stone was laid. Accompanied by the Campanile di Giotto and the Battistero di San Giovanni, the Piazza del Duomo dominates the Florentine skyline to this very day.

This story inspired me, and finally I completed “Florence on the Arno.”

IMAG0837Interest sparked, I learned of the other treasures found within the city. The Piazza della Signoria home to the Palazzo Vecchio also drew my attention. The old palace was another one of the mysteries that beckoned to me from my masterpiece. From there, I encountered the Fountain of Neptune, the Loggia dei Lanzi, and the Uffizi Complex.

 Yet, the location that still resonates in my heart is the very spot where that image was taken, appropriately named Piazzale Michelangelo.