Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,
Which we ascribe to Heaven.
– All’s Well That Ends Well, William Shakespeare
In Florence, one minute we were battling our way through the droves of tourists that were trying to get to the main square, the next minute we turned a corner and were face to face with Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. While people pushed and shoved to get their picture in front of the most stunning building we’ve ever seen, Ahmed and I lingered at distance, knowing that no picture would do this moment any justice.
When I got back to Toronto, I started looking for words to explain everything that I had experienced whilst being in Italy. All of a sudden my vocabulary felt so limited.
When you’re standing in front of Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, somewhere between your own existence and all that the world has to offer you – there’s no way of knowing that what you’re really feeling is onism. The truth that we only have one body and can only be in one place at any given time. Unless like me, you believe in parallel worlds?
That is why the crowds, the sun, the cobbled stones and all of the history that go with Florence need to slip away. We had no desire to be tourists today. By taking away the pressure of being a tourist in Florence, anywhere for that matter, you really begin to understand that in trying to see everything you miss most of it.
Florence’s architecture is like an epic song on a movie’s soundtrack filling up the room. Probably by Hans Zimmer. Your heart swells, you get goosebumps and are in awe that something so beautiful can exist.
Yet, Florence runs into the danger of not haunting me. At times it felt too alive, the tourists saw to that. I craved a deserted alleyway where I could be left with my thoughts. A place of silence where one could drink the city with shivers running down their back.
When we got to Piazzale Michelangelo we decided to go a little further. Beyond the road from the square, there’s a crooked path that most people miss. San Miniato al Monte, one of the city’s oldest churches has the best panoramic view of Florence. This is where lovers of secrets and solitude come. It’s so much more than just stepping off the beaten path.
As you look out across the red rooftops of Florence from here, you won’t be able to tear yourself away. There are a million other things to see in Florence, but you only have one body and in this case, the onism isn’t limiting, it’s liberating. Your plans for Florence will fall through but that’s okay, this is the place where you can just be. Don’t be a tourist in Florence, break the rules, put down the guide book and find a place in the city for your soliloquy. It’s the only place in the world where onism will make you happy.