Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve in the Rain

After 2 beautiful days of snow that left Florentines either awestruck or traffic-stuck, the umbrellas came back out, returning Florence to it's usual damp seasonal weather, and rain. But it didn't seem to matter. The city was just as vibrant and the Christmas buzz shone through. The longer I live here, the more I am beginning to appreciate the rain in Florence. Not only does it add a feeling of mystery and antiquity as I walk through the streets under a serious umbrella, but it changes the sound of the cathedrals' bells.

The clouds in Florence hang very low and when the bells chime, the sound bounces back and forth between the clouds, eventually getting literally stuck in the clouds, creating longer and deeper echoes, making the resonance last longer, adding more dimension and solemnity to the sound. You can tell if it's a cloudy day without even knowing it, just by listening to the bells.

Rain is a part of the personality of Florence and I am finally learing how to adapt to it and not allow it to stop me from my normal buying a collection of serious umbrellas and never leaving home without one! You can tell who are the native Florentines because they can ride a bicycle with one child in the front, another in the back, and hold an umbrella in one hand while navigating the narrow streets, and still come out of it alive. I won't feel like I have earned my Florenting badge of honor until I can pass a similar test.

Waking up on Christmas Eve morning I opened my windows to see a heavy, dense layer of grey-white clouds looming above the Duomo. The bricks of the duomo were brown instead of orange, being soaked from the rain. I was looking forward to spending the day doing last minute shopping, enjoying the spirit at the market and just taking in all the energy and anticipation for the day to come. I decided to start my day by walking up to the top of the Duomo's bell tower to observe the greatness of my city from far above. It was as spectacular as ever, even in the rain.

I ended the day on an equally high note, attending an exceptional Christmas Concert at Teatro Verdi, where the Orchestra della Toscana, under the direction of Giuliano Carella, performed Puccini's Messa di Gloria complete with a tenor, baritone, 2 sopranos and the entire Maggio Musicale Chorus. This was one of Puccini's early religious works that I had never seen or heard before and was deeply moved by its beauty and the perfection of its execution. It was a glorious prelude to Christmas.