Florence, 50 years later

Personal Journeys

My favorite placeIt was amazing...

September 27, 1998|By Edward G. Ward | Edward G. Ward,Special to The Sun

Florence, 50 years later; My favorite place

It was amazing. There had been no change in the spectacular view of the fabulous city of Florence, Italy, in 50 years.

There I was, excitedly absorbing in 1995 the same breathtaking grandeur of Bella Firenze laid out below me from Michelangelo Square - just as I had in 1945.

When the war ended in 1945, I was among the military police in Italy to guard the passenger trains throughout the peninsula. Being stationed in Florence was almost too much for an 18-year-old - the beauty, the arts, the city itself. When off duty, we took advantage of every nearby attraction.

There in front of me again was the river Arno slowly drifting through the center of the city. On Sundays, we would row a boat along it. Crossing over it was the medieval Ponte Vecchio bridge, home to jewelry shops and other stores where, in 1945, I had purchased a silver bracelet for my mother and cameo necklaces for my sisters. This historic bridge was one of the few thoughtfully saved from bombing in World War II.

From on high, the center of my view is the glorious Il Duomo, the beautiful cathedral housing vast works of art and topped by a dome copied by St. Peter's in Rome. Michelangelo had said St. Peter's dome might be larger, but nothing could surpass in beauty the dome of the cathedral of Florence.

Another standout is the Palazzo Vecchio, the ancient city hall in the central city, where the many artists, dignitaries and politicians of the Renaissance period gathered for special occasions. This famous structure brings to mind Baltimore's Bromo-Seltzer Tower, while the bell tower nearby reminds me of the firehouse tower on Gay Street.

Here we were, right where our tour bus had stopped for all to see the panorama of the "City of Flowers" laid out in splendor before us. It seemed like only yesterday that I had attended Mass in its cathedral or rode a bike through the city, over the Ponte Vecchio and up to this unchanging vantage point from Piazzale Michelangelo.

Since 1945, it was a view I had always remembered and hoped to see again. Over the years my overview from the square has been enjoyed by millions, and thousands of tour buses still make it a point to stop here. For me, though, after more than 50 years, it is still my favorite place.

Edward G. Ward lives in Bel Air.

Moscow

Mort Oakes, Dover, Pa.

"A flight on a MIG-21 was the highlight of a recent visit to Moscow. The Russian pilot put the combat fighter through an aerobatic program that proved to be as intense as it was thrilling. A vacation experience to literally take one's breath away."

Glacier National Park

Joan McKew, Perry Hall

"In the park, I ventured on a trail, initially surrounded by other walkers; then realized I was alone. The trail changed to a wooden boardwalk. Hearing a clop, clop, I turned to discover a large, long-haired, horned moun-tain goat. Signs warned to stay on the trail, but I gave him the right of way and scampered up the mountain."

Mexico

Alfred, Jen and Mark Cadden, Baltimore

"I was with Jennifer and Mark on an impromptu vacation to Mexico. 'Carlo the Shark Boy' dared tourists to swim with the sharks. We dove into the water and picked one up for pictures. We will never forget holding a living shark in our arms."

Where is your favorite place to see changing leaves in the fall?

Please answer in 50 words or less. Send by fax to 410-783-2519, or write to: Travel Department, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St.,

Baltimore, Md. 21278.

Pub Date: 9/27/98

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