Author picture

Remember to look up!

  • Craft a trip to Italy around your passions and interests
  • Walk in the footsteps of past visitors
  • Learn new things while digging deeper into your favorite book, movie, or TV series
  • Construct your dream itinerary
  • Make important discoveries when you remember to look up!

I recently read a great article in *The Times about a Pier Paolo Pasolini and Pasolini-film-inspired journey through Italy and I fell in love with the idea because it is exactly the kind of bespoke cultural experience, tailored around one’s passions and loves, that I encourage my clients to embrace.

With this article in mind, I just happened to look up one day and discovered the plaque you can see above, located on Via de’ Serragli in Florence. This one calls our attention to the birthplace of inventor Antonio Meucci, and is one of many you can find all over the city, visual reminders of those who walked these streets before us, commemorations of significant events and occasions, snippets of history, echoes of people’s stories. 

I spend a lot of time racing around the city, armed with my laptop, sometimes even my podcasting equipment, headphones always on. Ambling around town is therapeutic for me, it’s when ideas come to me and when I think things through. Florence is so walkable and provides the perfect backdrop for my outings and my ruminations. 

There are so many plaques like the ones above in Florence, all over Italy actually, and I feel elated when I come upon them by chance and learn something new. While going to appointments, work meetings, or simply to see friends and collaborators, I listen to my podcast, other podcasts, and music; but I also stop to take photos, observe, discover new things, and, most importantly, I find inspiration in those moments when I can slow my pace down from an almost-run to more of a stroll. 

Imagine my surprise when, on a recent jaunt in my neighborhood, I looked up, and for the first time ever noticed the plaque marking the birthplace of Antonio Meucci, on a street that I usually take twice a day! Growing up in a proud Italian American family, my father often reminded us that it was actually Antonio Meucci (an Italian!) who had invented the telephone, and not Alexander Graham Bell. We even had a sticker affixed to a vintage telephone in our house attesting to it.

Walking through history

A couple of days later, I looked up at just the right moment and saw another new one for me, on the very same street, this one marking where author Nathaniel Hawthorne had lived for a time during his Florentine sojourn in 1858.

Just last week, I remembered to look up while walking down another neighborhood street, and took a moment to read about where and when the first Italian fashion show was held (I already knew about this one).

As I stared up at the carefully etched marble tablet, I thought about how lovely and fun it would be to build an entire itinerary around these plaques, or a Ripley-inspired Caravaggio jaunt (without the gore), or a White Lotus influenced visit to Taormina with a side trip to Noto or across the island to Palermo (again, without the gore), even with a tour of the locations used in The Godfather and visited by the Di Grasso family thrown in (if we want to get really meta with The White Lotus).

My mind was spinning at this point, thinking about all the ways I could make my clients’ passions and dreams come to life.

And, as I stood there contemplating all of this, I thought about how as a quasi-New Yorker, when in the US I’m used to looking up at skyscrapers, but in Florence, where there are none, I often neglect to look up, missing out on a world of potential findings. 

Keeping this in mind, I do feel compelled, however, to give you an insider tip: while walking around Florence, and unfortunately in some other Italian cities as well, you will also need to look down fairly often because not everyone is as scrupulous about curbing their dogs as they should be.

But remember to look up. I promise you’ll be astonished by all the wonderful discoveries you’ll make.

 * The Times 

Share this post