“Every time I hear that song, I go back” —Kenny Chesney
I think Kenny Chesney said it best. There is something so powerful about a song. Perhaps it is the melody that lingers in your head?
Or a specific instrument you hear?
Maybe it is the catchy lyrics?
When you combine all of that with a perfect midnight blue starlit sky; warm weather that is neither too dry nor too humid; and larger-than-life impeccably-detailed statues surrounding you like a warm embrace, you do not even begin to scratch the surface of the impact a song can have on a memory.
Florence is timeless. It’s cultural. It’s magical. My last moments in this city are what really lit the “fire” in FIREnze for me.
It was a Friday night. I had just finished the most delectable bistecca alla Fiorentina (THE local specialty) accompanied by a locally-made Chianti for dinner.
After all the food, a stroll past the Duomo was required. The Duomo in itself is striking. But to walk by and hear glorious operatic music bouncing off of the red, white, and green marble took the experience to a whole new level. I remember standing there and watching the tourists all hold up their phones and record the woman belting out her best concerto pubblico. She was amazing. Seriously. But I had no idea what she was saying, much less what song she was singing. I still don’t. But the memory is as sharp as the notes she was hitting…
The stroll continued, now landing me at Piazza della Signoria. This open-air museum is breathtaking during the day, but a real showstopper at night. Amid the highly skilled craftsmanship of the surrounding statues are some benches tucked in the way back of an atrium-like building. That seemed like a good place to sit and people watch. Best of all, there was a 30-piece orchestra performing about twenty feet away from me in the piazza.
For me, classical music is synonymous with Italy. To cap my evening off at Piazza della Signoria listening to a 30-piece orchestra under the timeless gaze of all the statues was immensely special. I distinctly recall sitting there, tapping my foot, and getting lost in the music. I could not tell you the name of the songs they were playing, but I can say they performed at a very high level.
And then…I hear those first few beats. Then the notes…
“Dancing Queen” begins to play and I take off from my bench like a horse on a racetrack. I just HAD to be in “the action” (of which I normally steer far, far away from). But something overtook me that night. “Dancing Queen” morphed into “Mamma Mia,” which then transitioned into “The Winner Takes it All.” Each of the iconic songs in pure instrumental form. No vocals to accompany. Just the instruments echoing off of the Palazzo Vecchio brick walls.
The medley concluded with “Fernando,” and all I could hear in my mind was Cher’s rendition belting out, “There was something in the air that night, the stars so bright, Fernando.” That was it. That very moment was like lightning to my soul. There really WAS something in the air that night. And the stars really WERE so bright. And, as for Fernando, I think he was there too—a metaphor for Bella Firenze that set up the perfect atmosphere for my perfect final moments in this city.
I couldn’t tell you what song the Opera lady was singing by the Duomo, or the classical pieces that were played by the orchestra in Piazza della Signoria, but when those ABBA songs were played, mamma mia, I can recall to you every second with finite detail. THIS was the magic moment for me. And every time I hear “Fernando,” I am transported back to that exact point where time stood still and Florence swept me off my feet.
Where were YOU when a song electrified your soul? What is the name of the song?