It is 0˚outside, and even colder in this room. But I am warm. My eyes are closed and my ears are filled with heavenly choral voices as Florence's illustrious orchestra performs Mozart's Requiem. I am drifting somewhere between reality and fantasy, lost in space and time. Surrounded by an audience of 700 Florentines wrapped in heavy coats, scarves and boots, we are all connected by an inexplicable, magical bond. Heaven couldn’t be closer. This moment, this place, this space in time is exactly where I want to be. I’m frozen in this miraculous moment, mesmerized by the music, my heart which is full of love, and this magnificent space.
And then I open my eyes. I gaze towards Vasari’s Battaglia di Marciano, (behind which once existed Leonardo's Anghiari), and Michelangelo's famous marble group, the Genius of Victory. I look ahead at the elaborate theatrical stage setting ordered by Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo l and then lift my head up to see the grandiose gold-laden panelled ceiling. Over the past few years I have sat in this room dozens of times attending community-related functions. And here I am again, sitting in the magnificent Salone dei Cinquecento, still not believing that this is my city hall, enjoying an elaborate celebration of the anniversary of the death of Mozart among my Florentine neighbors.
I love my city and I love my life in Florence and I will never take it for granted. Even after four years, moments such as this seem to happen on an overwhelmingly frequent basis, too often to write about. And I cannot stop pinching myself, because this all seems too good to be true.