When I climbed anything high my heart would beat so fast and my legs would start to turn to rubber. I would have to use all my strength to focus on something besides the height, it would leave me near tears and sapped of strength. It never stopped me from traveling, but it made scaling anything high a challenge and sometimes an impossibility. I remember feeling this way when I was around three years old. It petrified me that I could not climb down.
But I am fortunate, because I no longer have the vertigo. Yes, that are some trace memories and I wince when climbing anything with some height expecting the familiar surge through my body, but it does not come.
How might you ask? First I realized it was anxiety related. Then during the last period of being between jobs (some people call it unemployed), I worked really hard on identifying my anxieties and facing them. It mostly worked. At least traveling it a lot easier.
Why do I bring it up at this point? Because today I visited the Duomo and I walked up the narrow path to the top of the dome, all 463 steep steps. I watched people turn around, and I thought that if I still had vertigo that coming down would have taken a herculean effort.
Instead I was rewarded with a gorgeous panoramic view of Firenze (Florence.) After I toured the church and climbed to the top of the dome, I visited the museum. There I saw many wonderful artifacts, including Michelangelo’s Pieta. I learned that artists created things for the church to keep the masses coming to church. Can you image this relief of children dancing with its colorful and sparkling mosaics, glittering Disney-like in a church lit only with candles?
I stopped for lunch at a trattoria near the dome. I choose it, because people were queued outside. I ordered a veal stew Tuscan style and beans with tomato and garlic. I was seated at a table with three strangers. The meal was alright, the experience, as they say, priceless.
Next stop was the Basillica di Santa Croce. I was actually looking for the synagogue, when I stumbled on this church with the Star of David on top. To bad I can’t share the story about what the six pointed star symbolizes, because I am pretty sure it has nothing to do with Judaism.
Are you getting tired yet? Because I was after hours and hours of walking. Next trick was finding my way back to the pensione, which I did.