A small wooden carousel sits on the Piaza della Republica in Florence, Italy. It is owned by the Picci family and is carefully attended by a family member. It is a charming, colorful antique carousel with 20 horses and two gilded carriages. The horses stand two by two, leaving plenty of room for parents to stand next to children. The carousel makes people smile. It is magic.
At dusk, the attendant approaches the carousel carrying a box. He has come to remove the feather plumes from the horses’ headdresses and pack them away for the night. The tourists, all but two, are gone, finding their dinners and evening entertainment. One couple remains standing in the shadows of the Piazza, witness to an amazing scene.
“Finally,” sighed Eduardo, “that feather has been poking my head all day.”
“I like the plumes,” said Francesca, “they are like wearing a hat. I feel glamorous.”
“I hope the attendant brings soap and water,” Maria complained, “a little girl dripped ice cream all over my mane and shoulders. I feel so sticky.”
“Look, here he comes with a bucket. Ah, that warm water feels so good.”
“Oh, my aching back. And legs. And neck. And everywhere else,” griped Giuseppe. “Kids these days don’t know how to properly mount a horse. They were kicking me all day. I am getting too old for this.”
“I just love riding round and round, with a giggling child on my back,” gushed Marisol. She was the youngest of the horses.
“I wish we could jump off this carousel and gallop through the streets. We could race, like in the Palio di Siena,” Marco said with a lusty sigh. “It would be so much fun to race flat out instead of bobbing slowly up and down.”
“The horses that run in the Palio di Siena run around in a circle, too,” corrected Luigi. “They’re just faster. And they sometimes run into each other or crash into buildings or spectators. Besides, we have these poles running through our backs. We can’t go anywhere.”
“I can dream, can’t I?” Marco snorted.
“Horses, horses, calm down,” Anna pleaded. “It’s getting dark and I’m tired. Let’s all go to sleep. Tomorrow is another day. I wonder if we will get to wear the blue plumes? We’ve been wearing white for months.”
“Good night my lovelies,” said the attendant as he put away his bucket and picked up the box of feather plumes. “Sleep well. See you in the morning.”
The two remaining tourists looked at each other in wonder. “Let’s ride first thing in the morning.” They whispered good night to the horses and strolled away, hand in hand. “I wonder where we should eat dinner.”