Just around the corner from the Palazzo Uffici in Florence, on the road by the Arno that leads to the old bridge (Ponte Vecchio, the one with the houses built all across the bridge), is a railing with a dozen or more small brass locks fastened on it. They are fastened in a disorderly clump, the first few around the railing, and then when there is no more space on the railing, around each other. At first glance, it is incomprehensible what purpose they might serve.
To me, at least. But not to Tony. I’m afraid that I am not the only incurable romantic in this relationship. A couple of days ago, he said he had a surprise for me on our evening walk. I enjoy surprises, and I always pretend to be surprised even if I’m not. But this time I was. We crossed the Arno and stopped just next to that clump of locks. He put his hand in his pocket and drew it out. A brass lock with two small keys.
I looked at him quizzically, and he told me he’d been wanting to do this ever since he first saw the clump of locks. He took out a permanent marker, and we each wrote a romantic message on it (you’ll have to visit Florence sometime if you want to know the content of our romantic messages). Then he fastened our lock onto the clump. Finally, we walked together to the old bridge, stood in the middle, and together dropped our keys into the flowing river and watched them disappear into the depths.
Just that. We’re now a part of the time-honored romantic tradition of the City of Flowers. And in case you’re puzzled about my sudden blatant inability to spell when writing with a permanent marker, it’s not that I was missing my spell-checker. I did it on purpose. Because that’s how the phrase was immortalized on my favorite Italian graffiti ever.