While we know that what we are being told about mindfulness being so important for our health is correct, we simply can’t help being fully complicit in this connected, social media age, the urge to scroll, check emails and WhatsApp somehow just too tempting to resist.
In our pockets is a tiny device that stimulates every aspect of our overactive brains, a micro-computer that is as addictive to most as any illegal drug, yet the arousal it brings is so much more widespread among the population.
Yet this is not a post on the worry of our children and teenagers growing up in this state – one whereby they will miss out on their whole lives by staring at a screen – instead an appreciation of a place so beautiful that it’s enough to snap even the most devoted screen user right out of it.
Imagine a place, high up on a hill, one that reveals a stunning vista in front of it. The most heady mix of purple and pink sunsets, with a breathtaking juxtaposition between man-made perfection and natural beauty below. Looking out over the entire city of Florence, it seems like the position of the picture-postcard view at Piazzale Michelangelo is simply too good to be true.
If ever there was a spot to stand, breathe, and just be, this is it.
It doesn’t matter that the Santa Maria del Fiore – the world-famous cathedral at the very heart of the city – has the largest brick dome ever constructed, and was completed in 1436 after taking almost 150 years to build. Equally unimportant is that the Ponte Vecchio bridge first appeared in documents in 996, and was the only bridge in Florence not to be destroyed by German bombing during World War Two.
Being there, in that spot, is just to marvel at the sheer manifestation of beauty in human excellence right before your eyes and to feel overwhelming gratitude that modern travel has allowed you to be there to experience it. You simply can’t escape the feeling that you aren’t looking at a postcard, rather that you are in it, living and breathing in a moment that you’d like to last forever.
Sure, you’ll take a picture for Instagram or Facebook, but no camera lens can truly do justice to what your amazing eyes and brain can decipher. It’s times like these that allow us to take a deep breath, feel the moment exactly how it is, without allowing thoughts to move into the past or the future.
Florence, and indeed the whole of Italy, is a perfect place to explore this concept, and once you truly feel it, there is no going back. It’s an addictive freedom from the stimulating and anxious modern world, a compulsion of silence that only has positive effects.
The panorama in front of you serves as a great metaphor for what’s inside of you, a vast expanse of both natural and man-made beauty just waiting to be explored through silence. In a city fuelled by rabid tourism this may seem a strange concept, but go up there, try it. You might discover that something you’d been looking for was inside of you all along. And you didn’t need your phone to help you find it.