The Cotê d’Azur and the south of France captured my heart but the doors of Tuscany intrigued and enchanted my eyes and my sense of wonder. The ornateness of the wood, the symmetry of the archway tied together with an elaborate brass doorknob placed directly in the center of the door, the thresholds of marble and stone from ancient times, made me curiously wonder what was behind these doors. Early in my journey of self-discovery, it occurred to me that I had gone through much of life focused on the path in front me and figuratively “walked” past many doors throughout my life. Leaving unexplored opportunities and missed adventures should I have had the courage to veer just slightly off my predetermined plan. I walked the streets of Florence, Siena, Monteriggioni, and San Gimignano in the Tuscany region of Italy and stood in awe of these magnificent doors. So much care taken to the outside of a dwelling that would never be seen from the inside. I wanted to knock on many of these doors and see beyond the entry point. Standing straight in the front of me, was the quintessential metaphor of the door as the gateway to reinvention, to something new and undiscovered.
In Florence, it wasn’t surprising that the doors of the main offices and storefronts of the major couture houses such as Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo were grand and ornately decorated. This was the entrance to the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum and store in Florence. As I looked down the hallway, the large vases filled with flowers sat on tables that looked as if they had historic pasts in the halls of palaces.
A few doorways of trattorias in Florence looked as if they belonged in a garden, surrounded by a small pond, with a pergola covered with wisteria.
Most of the doors that captured my attention were private residences, where the doors had intricate carvings within the wood with designs of flowers or animals. Who makes these doors, where do you go to buy them, is this a family tradition that is passed down through generations in which sons and daughters are taught this trade of making these artistic masterpieces? In San Gimignano I could have taken hundreds of pictures of doors. The quaint streets with narrow doorways, planters in windows catching the sunlight and the stonewalls framing up the doors. Some painted bright red lined up in a row along the street.
This small single entrance with an address of Number 1, was in the tiny walled village of Monteriggioni. There couldn’t have been more than 50 residences in this village. As I stood and framed this picture I desperately wanted to know who lived here and what were they like. Did they have a room listed on Airbnb I could rent?
Taking pictures of these doors was inspiring and very symbolic as I thought frequently about how much I am passing from one threshold to the next on this journey. I’m traveling to different places and stepping into new beginnings with every new city I visit. I am opening doors within my own mind and heart as I discover new things about myself and allow myself to open more fully to my experiences, my emotions and tear down the barriers I have created for myself in the past. The archways of these doors convey strength and stability yet also grace and artistic expression. These are not prepackaged, one size fits all doors from a box store. They are custom made, works of art and with care and attention they will last for generations. I am going to take the vision and deeper meaning of these doors with me as a constant reminder to notice the doors in my life, notice those moments when it might be time to step over a threshold, go in a new direction, or start a new opportunity. And recognizing that while function is important, artistic expression plays an important purpose in life. Perhaps when I do come back to the US, I’ll have the only house on the street with an ornate wooden door with a beautiful knob right in the middle of the door.