Fresh Air

One of my biggest hangups is feeling guilty when I walk away from work. I feel like if I'm not always starting a new project right after finishing an old one I'm walking slowly in the abyss of failure. One of the great things about living in Florence is that people expect you to go and see amazing things every day- and I don't. Not as often as I should so I'm making an effort to have a life outside of my studio and enjoy the city I fought so hard to live in.

As a resident of Florence, it's easy to become a tourist for a day because there are so many buildings, museums, and monuments worth seeing over and over again. So many spectacular locations that give you the impression that you're just seeing them for the first time.

Today was one of the days in which I decided to play tourist. I woke up early to walk up to Forte Belvedere to see the work of Massimo Listri before the show closes in a week. There's always a revolving show of outdoor sculptures and installations the Forte which is large so the work tends to be impressive and large, or at least large- depending on your taste. Forte Belvedere translates to the fortress with a beautiful view; it stands above the whole city and was strategically placed to protect the Pitti palace directly below its thick walls. The walk to the fortress is a great workout as the street is tilted at 45° the whole way up. The narrow, vertical via that leads to the fortress passes historic churches, Galileo's house, hidden gardens, and apparently what's left of the Catholic Templars.

The oblong, star-shaped fort is now mostly covered in grass on top like a front lawn in the suburbs. Once inside though there are several passageways to explore that lead you up and around and below the Fortress. Standing at the edge of its old stone walls, the view is beautiful and the air is cleaner. Sometimes, from any high vantage point around Florence, you can see a thin cloud of smog settled on top of the city.

Up and away - *1 hour

Until the end of October 2019, the fort is covered with large bison migrating slowly to the edge of the fort's walls facing the city of Florence. Grazing like big lumps, unaware of the sheer drop-offs or the stunning view. I quite liked them, the art was worth the climb.

Sharing the top of the hill with the fortress, is one of a few entrances to the Boboli gardens, the main entrance being in Palazzo Pitti at the base of the hill. About a five minute walk from my house. Similar to the fortress, the gardens were built by the Medici family, but some 50 years before Forte Belvedere, for Elenora di Toledo. The subject of one of my favorite portraits in the Uffizi Gallery. The garden that once was her's is now open free of charge to residents of Florence. As a new resident, I was really excited to take advantage of my free entrance, so I took the shortcut through the garden while listening to some podcasts.

I think this field trip worked. The Buffalo inspired me to wander freely around Boboli and my head felt more clear. One of my all-time favorite artists, John Singer Sargent, had painted some of the most beautiful corners in the gardens. Before switching to digital media I was a watercolorist, so naturally, his famous travel journals filled with amazing watercolors have let a huge impression on my work. Unconsciously I gravitated towards one of my favorite scenes he painted: a stone figure half-immersed in a green pond completely drowned in sunlight, surrounded by mossy rocks and iron gates.

Moments like these are the reasons why I have to leave my studio more often.


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