I love Europe in the winter. I’ve seen Paris and Florence in the snow. I’ve seen the gentle rolling English countryside freshly dusted white in the early morning light. True Europe is mostly grey at the this time of year, and there is often a sharp bite to the air, but to see Amsterdam in the soft light that the Early Masters painted by is to see Amsterdam in a knowing way. To be in Paris or Florence in the winter is to be among the Parisians and the Florentines in their world; devoid of the hordes of tourist, moving to a life pace that is their own. As one sits in a small café on Rue de Canettes watching the snow flakes alight on the black uniforms of shuffling citizens, one can imagine Paris as Hemingway or Fitzgerald found it; solemn and contemplative; or, among the monuments of Florence as the morning awakens to the day, one may imagine Bramante or Michelangelo, bread and cheese in hand, making their way to the construction site to start their day. This is the time of the year when you can stroll among the sharp bones of the trees of the Jardins du Luxembourg in solitude, or stand in the Uffizi studying the strokes of a Botticelli for moments on end uninterrupted. It is a time when, if you listen hard enough, you can hear the age of the stones speak to you in a gentle whisper, and time pass as it has for a millennia with the gentle rush of the Seine.