After petting a famine kitten, whose fur was coming out in clumps, from the busy cobblestone streets in Orvieto, Italy, we finally came to an opening in the never ending network of moss covered cobblestones. Looking out over the thousand foot plateau, we could see the unreal green of the agriculture in the valley. Cypress trees curved along the exterior of the orange, bricked houses. The houses clung to the edge of the plateau with brown bases and orange roofs. Just beyond this were blue mountains which faded into a lighter shade of blue sky; eventually everything became white, morphed into the clouds. Narrow streets were surrounded by bricked buildings. Patches of olive groves were enclosed by picket fencing, and strips of other agriculture streaked up the mountain. Bikers and smart cars forced the pedestrians off the narrow streets not slowing down to accommodate our visiting band tour group. The bricked ledge was covered in moss and well worn. Sitting on the edge, I dangled my legs in the open air, admiring the view below.
Getting lost in the view, we wandered down the streets toward a park placed on the edge of the plateau. Being the farthest to the edge, it was encompassed with barbed wire. There was a small soccer field on the valley side; two children took turns shooting at each other. Following the luscious, green grass we came to a cave below the descending plateau. Realizing the time, we took one last look at Orvieto’s edge and headed back. Becoming more panicked, we hurried through the endless maze of streets, searching for our hotel. We arrived minutes before our agreed time, rushing up to our room to change into our concert black. Together, the band walked to the old church by the bell tower, a block away from our hotel, for our final concert.
In Florence, we followed a hasty tour guide through the crowded streets. Weaving our way through potential pick-pocketers and other tour groups, we passed the world’s third largest cathedral, saw the Star of David, and the houses clinging to the bridge overlooking the murky, green river. After our group separated, we walked towards the bell tower holding large gelatos. The hike up the stairs was extremely tiring, especially for someone who was bouncing back from knee surgery. But the view was to die for. At the top we could see all of Florence, the river, the merry-go round in the square, and the cathedral with a golden cross at the top. We could spot tiny figures standing at the top of the enormous cathedral, sharing our view. It wasn’t long before my camera was dead; so we sat at the top of the bell tower, with tourist stepping over us, admiring the immense view. The mountains with little orange houses clinging to its side vanished into the horizon, so that we could not make out where the mountains ended and the sky began. Florence was so heavily crowded that it was hard to make out the streets from the overflowing buildings, colorfully stacked on top of each other. An hour had passed, our gelato melted at our feet, but we could not tear ourselves from the view. Finally, we trudged back towards the ground, taking our time as we went. The images would stay with us for long after our trip ended. The immense population of Florence and aspiring views made me appreciate that there is more to the world then the stretches of my neighborhood. I now realize that I am just a grain of sand on a vast beach.