There is an in-between time in the life of a city when one day ends and
another starts, a time between the present and the past.. It has little
to do with the changing of calendar dates at midnight but rather when
one day's activities cease and the next begins. This in-between time is
getting harder to find but it does exist. It is the time when the streets
are empty, a time before the nightly cleanup starts, before the city sweepers
are out and after the nightlife has ended. A time when it is quiet. No
horns, no rat-tat-tat of scooter engines. No bells, no whistles, no shouts,
no screeching brakes and the whine of accelerating engines destined never
to get out of second gear. Quiet. The only sound is the click-click of
heels on concrete or cobblestone of a solitary person.
It is the time when whatever life is still awake in the surrounding buildings
can be heard by the passer-by. The sound of a TV and conversation can
be heard through an open third storey window. The words freely tumbling
down to the street uninhibited by the silence and unhindered by the sounds
of other lives. A moment of unintended intimacy. Firenze is a different
city in the in-between time. Less obvious, less dramatic, less itself
Coming out of a dark side street the Piazza Signoria opens up under a
moonlit sky. There is a slight breeze and a faint whistle can be heard.
It is the hiss of the splash and spray of Neptune's Fountain that dominates
the space now. There is no flutter of pigeon feathers or the delighted
squeals of little girls or the snap of camera shutters. The Cafe Rivoire
is packed up for another night. The loggia is empty and still, devoid
of young bodies lounging in its shade. Only the statues remain seeming
ready to act out their dramas but frozen in their own in-between time.
From somewhere by the Uffizi a burst of feminine laughter crashes into
the frail silence. Suddenly another staccato burst. This time closer and
out from behind the loggia come the young interlopers. They cross the
piazza noisily stealing the moment's different ness. Their intrusion is
Across the piazza, through the darkness of the Uffizi and out to the lights
of the Lugarno. It is empty of traffic both human and mechanical. The
river is high and running quickly. The sound of the moving water rushing
past the bridge washes away the centuries of urban growth and development.
It is an old sound that has always belonged here.
Off in the distant east a faint glow rises above the hills signalling
the approach of another day. The sound of ancient times retreats into
the past just before being overwhelmed by the buzz of modernity.
The traffic begins on the Lugarno and whatever is left of the in-between
time is gone but not for good. It is only a matter of time before the
past will be able to return.