Over the last couple of months I have struggled to blog. My job at the BBC is stressful, my brain deep fried from constant computer work. When I get home I can barely type two words together. So I relent and crash on the couch. The weekends I reserve for fitness and recovering from the intense working week. But this life has taken its toll. Starving my creativity has hollowed me out.
London kills me. It’s like riding white-water rapids where at any moment the currents will dash you against the rocks. I daren’t park up at a posh restaurant in Mayfair just to while away the hours writing- do you know how much an hour is in Londoner years??!
So I decided to take five, five days to be exact and flee to Florence. I lived here in 2006, and since then have been back many a time. So it’s perfect. There’s no pressure to devour the art, history or sights. I will however devour the food. Willingly.
But in between the mealtimes, I devote the time to writing. I am sitting outdoors at the fashionable GiLLi. Established in 1773, this chic Italian café is as much apart of Florentine history as the square it sits in. It’s a bright warm morning on Piazza della Repubblica, the ancient city centre since Roman times. A jazz quartet entertains the throngs though I can barely hear them above the hubbub. On my ten o’clock a carousel takes bambini on a turn. It’s been there for at least ten years, that’s a guess since I remember it from my time as a Florentine. Behind me is Via Roma and infront Via Sassetti. Both streets are lined with all the riches in haute couture: Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, Boss. The cathedral bells sound, cutting the urban noise like a knife through butter. It will happen again to mark Midday.
Is it any wonder that I chose to boost my creative juices here? I’ve written more on my first day than I could in a month in the big smoke. It helps being on holiday but it REALLY helps when you’re in a place like this. In Florence, time hardly registers. The waiters have let me be. The afternoon heat is picking up, baking the stone slabs on the Piazza. But under a cool awning I am calm. I can chill, gently flex the grey-matter muscle and.just.write.
Florence, like Italy, is effortlessly elegant with a dash of the devil-may-care in its attitude towards life.
Florence, like Italy, is effortlessly elegant with a dash of the devil-may-care in its attitude towards life. Yes, I sense the irony given that there is a church on every corner. But the religious judgement from the lofty heights of Brunellschi’s Duomo is barely felt. Back at ground zero it’s business as usual. People shoot up on coffee and nicotine and wolf down a sinfully sweet pasticceria. Perhaps they might take in some shopping or sloth around in another café until lunch.
The effect is palpable. Since February, I have had a hundred odd blog ideas on post-it notes in my head. But I feel the clutter has cleared and I am more focused. As a new blogger it’s important to be in the right setting. Hell as any self-starter it’s key. Florence just happens to be my haven. Time to pack up my laptop and take a stroll by the River Arno.