Tomorrow I will be joining thousands of spectators to observe the Florence marathon...for me, the third time. I wish I were a runner. Just walking and riding my bike through the streets of Florence is intoxicating, I can only imagine what it must be like to have the whole city closed to traffic and thousands of people routing you on. Last year's marathon was sensational and I was able to ride my bike through side streets to keep a little ahead of the action, and got to see the best of it. I hope I can do that again tomorrow, although the prevision is for rain.
I am so proud of my city. Mayor Renzi is a dynamo, a doer and little by little he is transforming the city in many ways, promoting cultural, social, athletic, and educational events throughout Florence and garnering outside support to heighten the pride of its constituents and improve its image and economy. He has played a strong part in promoting the marathon since his election, and he will be participating as a runner too.....I hope to spot him!! The marathon is just one of the many events that is contributing to the growing international appeal of Florence over the past year. In spite of this being our rainy season, it is a perfect time of year for a marathon....cool, crisp, with many outdoor events happening.
This year the marathon is attracting over 10.000 participants who will be starting high above the city at Piazzale Michelangelo and running along the streets of the Medici to finish at Piazza Santa Croce where renowned Renaissance masters such as Galileo, Machiavelli and Michaelangelo are buried in the Cathedral....a very fitting backdrop to this electric event. I am psyched to see this exhilirating display of energy which, with the backdrop of Florence's great monuments, is truly a great tribute to this great city.
Today, in preparation for the Marathon, Florence was especially buzzed and the streets were packed with tomorrow's athletes, including 3,000 of which are coming in from other countries. You can tell who are the tourists and who are the runners...they dress more sporty (which means no high heels) and have a rhythm in their gate....they are pumped for tomorrow and the anticipation can be felt all throughout the city.
There were helicopters flying low over Florence today buzzing around all day, either preparing for the marathon or surveilling a student protest at the duomo, which was very interesting and informative to observe. All the hotels are booked and restaurants are prepared to feed the crowds with their special pasta carbo-loading menus today. I am looking forward to following the marathon along the side streets on my bike tomorrow, although rain is predicted, and I still haven't mastered the art of carrying an umbrella in one hand while handling the bike with the other.
Tomorrow also marks the beginning of my opera season subscription, which after cycling, is my number 2 passion, in search for which I have traveled to many countries over the past 20 years as an avid follower who can never get enough. Opera and cycling have their respective seasons in perfect harmony. Both are spiritual sources of energy and enrichment for my spirit. Tomorrow's opera is La Forza del Destino one of my favorite Verdi operas. It makes me think of how we get to our destiny by way of the sometimes conflicting powers of nature, searching, hard work, desire, struggle and.....by accident. Somehow the right combination of these elements brought me here to Florence, where I am peaceful and happy.