It was our first trip of this kind. We had just sixty-eight hours to see a green, spring-summery Tuscany and enjoy each other. I recall these moments as a miracle suspended in time. They were so different from everyday life, especially as back then I worked for a closed-minded and heavily structured corporation. We could already feel it at the airport in Cracow, waiting for our evening flight: travel-induced excitement mixed with relief. We would finally get away from it all. The flight was supposed to take two hours and I was awaiting it like a catharsis.

The plan was as follows: after landing in Pisa we would take a train to the port town of Livorno, and there, having inhaled our share of the city, we would find a beach on which to spend the night. In the beginning everything was going well. We found the train, the city, and cheap carton wine in a twenty-four-hour shop. Saddled with backpacks, so exhausted that we couldn’t stop giggling, we exchanged names with the town’s nighttime alleys. They twisted like rhizomes and caused our shouts to dully resonate. An enchanted city in the night. Intoxicated by the encounter we reached the docks and set out to meet its drowsy merriments.

At about three in the morning our energy finally withered, so we gave up on our search for a suburban beach. We cast the anchor at a city beach right next to a tiny park. It got dark, cold and quiet. No sound came apart from the icy water’s murmur and the occasional shout. There was a moment of consternation. We had no sleeping bags. We had towels, backpacks, and a shopping bag filled by biscuits, Italian cartoned wine, and Mexican bottled beer. Wishing to hide from the sea breeze, we tracked back and found a suitable spot amongst the cozier of the park bushes. It was there that we set up our little camp. I grabbed the empty beer bottle and told her I would protect her with this here majestic weapon. We slept on the towels, covered by our hoodies and huddled together until the breaking of dawn.

Morning roused us with a drizzle. Our host set the check-in for as late as 1 p.m. The long hours separating us from throwing the luggage off our backs and throwing ourselves on a comfy bed, we spent strolling through the city. We fled from the rain through a seaside plaza called Terrazza Mascagni; ate an Italian breakfast based on tomatos, olive oil, and mozzarella; quarelled in front of a monumental cathedral and did our grocery shopping in a market about to burst with a striking variety of cheeses, fish, and seafood. Through all that we felt as if bizarrely suspended between dreamlike fantasy and reality. We were absolutely exhausted. We were both dreaming about a cold shower and soft, cold bedding.

When we finally stepped inside of our apartment, I realized sleep wasn’t that important at all. I wanted more. When you’re tired long enough, you cross a point of no return and all you’re ready for is more. It was then, after the long hours, that my organism entered a high activity mode. Falling asleep wasn’t easy, but when I finally managed to do it and then woke up in two hours by the side of A., who was still sleeping, I was overjoyed, well-rested and ready for more sightseeing.

That night we laughed for hours in the kitchen, cooking pasta with pesto and pistachio-stuffed cheese. I love Italian cuisine and I love the time we spent there.

Day two had an entirely different aura. Hot, sunny, and thoroughly tender, it led us right to the green heart of Florence, its gardens: Giardino Bardini and Giardino di Boboli. These huge, amazing green spaces are situated in the middle of the busy city. Sunrays fight for attention with shadows that slide amongst the lush green. One might think that magical creatures roam behind the oaken branches. A hill towers over the verdant area. If you get to the very summit, you can enjoy a view encompassing all of Florence.

I am still to mention the most important fact of all. It was our anniversary, exactly a year after we got together, and I had a diamond ring with me. I made use of it in one of the alleys shielded by a canopy of branches. I was (and still am) indescribably in love with A., and that day I was also indescribably in love with Tuscany. It all seemed infused with a kind of charm I had never before experienced. And the way she laughed melted my heart.

The last day, in Pisa, we tried to grasp as one reaches out for last sunrays. It was hot, stifling even. Flaky, dusty walls were tempting us to enter and get lost in a labyrinth full of identical alleys. Following a stray cat or just strolling with no destination in mind. We were caught by surprise by how soon our flight was to take off. We almost sprinted to see the city’s main attraction, so afterwards we had plenty of time to sit down and enjoy pizza in Pisa. We have our priorities straight.

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