It’s been a long, winding love affair.
A lot of poetry, a lot of tears, a lot of cigarettes and laughter.
Forever, somehow, will that city be associated with this aesthete… and what was.
(and, of course, this diary)
I’m always drawn back, somehow, even when I think it’s finally over. Life speaks to me ~ little voices whisper ~ from some place. I honestly don’t know what will happen from one year to the next. I do ‘plan’ sometimes. Well, I have goals at least. Dreams and ideas. But my life path seems to be so different from those around me. My choices probably seem arbitrary, capricious even. But they never are… I wait, always, for the signs. Even if accepting them pains me at times.
Sometimes, I don’t want to leave again. But, when life calls, you have to answer. It’s either that, or regret. And I don’t do that sort of regret. I regret leaving, sure, all the places and people I’ve left behind.
‘Après moi, le déluge’
An old saying congruous to my life indeed.
But I would do it all again. It’s my fate… realised that long ago.
And I will settle eventually… when the voices command it.
Until then… it’s living with the heart, beating, full.
Looking back only to admire.
I regret not.
Not even now.
As much as England, Italy (and chiefly Florence) is a home.
I don’t think I chose the city, rather it or something else chose it for me.
I spend a few months there every year now, have done since 2013.
It’s amazing how a place can show you such different colours over time. Just when you think you’ve seen it all… something else appears. Something grows, reaches up and uncurls in the light.
I’ve had some tumultuous love affairs of my own here in this city, and the city has been a place I have chosen to escape other loves. Love is an enormous part of my story. There have been some hilarious escapades that I couldn’t write here. Incredible times and very sad times, of course. I’m an artist. I play with fire. I burn, I learn. I live life full and unedited… it’s much harder than living a safe life, I guess, but it certainly has its own special kind of rhythm… and it will one day make quite something of an autobiography let me tell you.
Still… we’re not quite there yet 😉
Like the other cities that have played a major part in my aesthete story, Venice and Rome, Florence has provided the perfect setting for a lot of poetry and prose, a great canvas for me to splash the multicolours of my chiaroscuro technicolour soul. I’m one of those people, I feel deeply. Happiness, joy, sadness, loss. Sometimes life feels so very dark… I feel like I’m crawling, clawing the walls to stand. Other times I’m so full of joy I’m surprised not to find myself ablaze with fire. I quickly evolve, mould and ‘grow’ into my surroundings. I have to be careful, however. A fortress with doors ajar is defenceless. And yet, I couldn’t bolt up for good… who knows who or what I could miss.
I have to take time for myself.
Close friends know that when I am low I lock myself away. I like to know they are there, beyond the door. I cry almost solely when I am alone… I’m so proud that I can cry. For years I couldn’t cry, no matter how hard I tried. I’m a working progress. Hopefully one day I can cry a little more in view. Still learning how to be totally vulnerable in that way.
I find great solace in music, cups of tea, pen and paper.
My poetry is where I leave my pain, my joy and my muse.
Last year for the first time I lived and modelled in one of Florence’s art academies.
I found the place deeply inspiring, the studious and creative environment had a great affect on me. The professors are amazingly talented individuals who I really enjoyed working with. It was fascinating to see the art works take shape over the many weeks of sitting in precisely the same position, staring out of the window into Florentine space…
One day they put me in the position of ‘the David’.
I can honestly tell you it was the most excruciating of all!
Being contrapposto and still for any length of time is bloody hard work.
For the more serious budding artists among you, ladies and gentleman,
I present the Florence Classical Arts Academy ~
(If you’re lucky/unlucky you might just get me as your model)
Full list of artists and contact can be found on my Featured Artists page.
Unlike this year which wielded a mild winter and an affable early spring trip, last winter in Italy was very cold, and I was lucky enough to catch Florence during its one day of snow, the first in many many years.
It was quite a sight to see terracotta and stone give way to a blanket of pure white, albeit transitory (only last 24hrs). Public fountains froze over (no bathing this time!) I joined a good pal of mine on her rooftop terrace to catch the best views.
Fun. Letting go. Losing control.
For some ways of life it is necessary.
Anyone who knows me knows that I know how to have fun… if occasional calls. I don’t even need to be drunk. Just give me fuel and watch me burn. Put a bit of Funk or Motown on and I’m off! These feet were made to move…
I’m very lucky to have such gracious friends who,
for whatever reason, are always happy to take me in.
I don’t know where I’d be without friendship. And like the deep, soulful times in my life, in the same way they are 100% crucial to my survival and strong-spiritedness, so too is the madness, the hedonism, the party animal and the silly, laughing, dancing, posey, unfiltered me that sometimes I just need to be.
So you’ve learnt to forgive those that hurt you, who were too weak to control their minds, their tongue… but have you learnt yet to forgive yourself?
You can’t be perfect all the time, and nobody expects you to be, and if they do, well, the door’s the wooden thing in the wall…
It’s hard out here. It’s difficult to create the life you want to lead. It can feel like sometimes you have to slog, every day, to build your world. Don’t get me wrong, hard work is great… But don’t take it too seriously. Nothing lasts for long. Nothing is permanent, fixed or ‘sure’.
Let your hair down once in a while.
Throw caution to the wind.
Dance round the house naked.
Fall in love, make mistakes and work it all out later.
So what if they call you crazy…
I’ve never really had time for ‘they’.
Some video diaries from Florentine times…
Inspired 😊,,,God bless you .
God bless you too!
Your post took me back to Florence and yes, feeling very nostalgic. Saw much that reminded me of those sunny days and then some that I didn’t know of it . I especially enjoyed the part of your time in art school and the photographs are gorgeous! Fab post !
Thank you. So glad it took you back on a journey… my own has been long and winding with Florence. It is lovely to step back in time occasionally and revisit old scenes. The art school really was a unique moment in time! Don’t think I’d ever do it again but definitely don’t regret that fascinating experience 🙂
So beautiful, thank you for sharing. I’ve always wanted to visit! I want to touch the old buildings and be barefoot myself, feeling the past under my feet ❤️
A beautiful feeling! Think I will try some more barefoot adventures this coming year <3
You’re such an inspiration! Love, love, love all the way to you ❤🙏
YOU are a blessing.
All the love in the world
Back at ya!! ❤️❤️❤️
Looks like you are having a great time! I’ll make it to Italy one day! Hope you are remaining healthy and I see you are remaining FREE! Yes!
You will indeed make it to Italy one day, my friend.
Yes I am healthy; I am free. Life remains a beautiful challenge…
This year, like each that has preceded it, has brought new challenges.
This year I need to learn how to give unconditional love, regardless of reciprocation.
Bloody hard work! But I am working on it 😉
Lovely, always, to hear from your bright soul!
Endless love and light.
Stylish and illuminating. Very well worth the effort, thanks!
I appreciate it.
Your post made me feel like getting a letter from the past, from a poet lived two hundred years ago, the photos just made the feeling stronger, a poet, listening himself, travelling with a map drawn to the wind.
I just love this image you’ve created, so much! I guess, somehow, that is exactly what this is… in some realm or time.
Or maybe will be one day.
Nice to see you back, this time with a little bit of madness. Totally understandable, Italy is one such place. And it’s great seeing you moving along with the pulse of the city or village or whichever geographical part of the world it is. And taking your readers along with you…….
Thank you… nice to be back, and to see your comments too.
Yes, Italy’s sweet Inferno. It still amazes me how each place has such different energy, and how that energy affects and changes me.
I am lucky to have been in so many affecting places in my time, and more to come I pray.
I love to follow your journey –
And I’m really thankful you follow it ✨🙏🏼
You have so many different personalities. Keep enjoying your journey.
Thank you 🙂
Interesting, isn’t it. I am greatly affected by my surroundings. Always have been. Mutable perhaps.
I can see that, I read your earlier blogs also, you are like an actor who gets moulded in any situation.
Best regards, Anjali.
That’s a nice analogy.
All the best to you. James x
Thank you 🙏❤️
God bless Your beautiful Journey
Means a lot.
God bless you. Jx