Change is positive

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Living in Florence has taught me one important lesson: change is positive. Everything and everyone is changing all the time. Sometimes itís happening at a fast pace while at other times at a much slower pace, but nothing stays the same. In Florence, I have experienced changes, both big and small: moving apartments, divorcing, changing professions, beginning/completing writing projects, and meeting new friends and letting go of others. I have learned that you canít hold onto anything and when you try, it is thrust out of your grip anyway. [Read More]

Celebrating ten years in Florence

Sunday, November 16, 2014

When I returned to Florence ten years ago today I wasnít certain that I would stay as long as I have. In my heart, I knew I didnít want to never leave, but I couldnít make such decisions alone. After my five-year hiatus in the US, I arrived in Florence accompanied by my then husband. I had never moved anywhere with anyone and I didnít know how the move would affect us. Over time, my life in Florence became more important to me than anything or anyone else. [Read More]

Living out my emotions

Saturday, November 15, 2014

One of the reasons I feel in my element in Florence is that it is where I can freely live out my emotions. When I was growing up, I was taught to show only ďpositiveĒ emotions (and not too much of them either) and hide all the ďnegativeĒ ones. I learned at a young age that no one wanted to see me angry or sad. All the ďnegativeĒ emotions I had were to be lived out privately and more specifically when I was by alone. [Read More]

Running along the Arno before taking off

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Today was my last day in Florence and I began it with a run along the Arno. During my stay home, I headed up to the Piazzale Michelangiolo for each of my morning runs. However, because it was a little chillier than it has been, I decided to stick to the centro (downtown area). When I arrived at the end of Ponte alle Grazie, I turned right and headed toward the Ponte Vecchio, which looked like it was lit up by the sun that was just coming up. [Read More]

Pausing to savor the moment

Monday, October 27, 2014

I was almost not going to go running during my stay in Florence because I had forgotten my iPod in France. At first, I was upset with myself because I hate forgetting things. Then, I realized that I could take my iPhone with me, which has all my music on it. I had only run with my iPhone on vacation, but I didnít realize how this change would end up being so rewarding. [Read More]

I love being an expat

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I love being an expat so much that I canít imagine not being one. I love how two cities that were foreign to me and have now become so familiar to me that I consider them home. I love how living overseas has opened me up, changed me, allowed me to grow, and stretched me to be who I was born to be. I love how I have learned to look past the surface. I love how I see people for who they are and not what they do. I love how communicating with someone doesnít involve only the words he/she says. [Read More]

Juggling French and Italian

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Before returning to Paris for work almost four years ago, I kept my French in my back pocket. I pulled it out when I needed it, but kept Italian as my ďmainĒ foreign language for over 10 years. Nowadays, I have to juggle both French and Italian, and on a daily basis. I speak to my beau and my colleagues in French, I speak to my friends in Florence in Italian, and I write in English. It might not sound that difficult, but being fluent in two foreign languages is like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. It takes concentration, effort, and a bit of fumbling around. [Read More]

Embracing Florence and Paris

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

One of the most common questions Iím asked after I explain where I live is, ďArenít you going to eventually just pick one place?Ē The oddest part is that Iím never prepared for the question and rarely have a good answer. Iím usually surprised because I didnít know that I was supposed to pick just one place. I usually try to explain that I didnít plan my life to be split between two cities, but I do enjoy it. [Read More]

Adjusting to the rhythm

Saturday, September 27, 2014

As I continue to split my life between Florence and a Parisian suburb, I have realized that when I arrive home I have to adjust to the rhythm of each city. It took me some time to find my balance between the two cities and now that I have all of my essentials in both homes, I travel rather lightly only bringing certain things to each home that I like. With a flight is only an hour and a half long, it should be easy for me to adjust. However, I always find myself stumbling a little when I return to France. [Read More]

Living my dream

Friday, September 26, 2014

During my run yesterday, many thoughts came to mind about my life in Florence and a Parisian suburb. When I talk to my friends, I understand that it looks like a dream to be living between two different countries and be able to speak both Italian and French fluently. I didnít get to this point in a day; it took many years of persevering. I remember when I was in my university library studying for my French literature class and how all I dreamed about was living in France. In my early twenties, I wouldíve been content waiting tables or working in a bookshop just to live in France. Fortunately, I got a hired by a French software company that sent me to Paris. France drew me into its web after I stayed with two different French families (one month each) right after graduating high school. Florence, on the other hand, called to me after only spending three days in its embrace. [Read More]

Experiencing and cherishing beauty

Monday, September 15, 2014

For me, beauty can be transmitted through photos and words, but the feelings that bubble up inside of you when you experience beauty are personal and powerful. Even though I live in Florence and just outside of Paris, I am exposed to a lot of beauty. I am very sensitive to my surroundings and crave beauty because it inspires me, emotionally moves me, and touches me deeply. [Read More]

Basking in Florenceís energy

Saturday, September 6, 2014

I plan out my weekends in Florence like most people plan out their vacations. I make mental lists of what I want to see, eat, and visit. The past couple of days, Iíve only been able to go out for brief periods of time due to my work obligations. At night, however, Iíve been walking around the piazze and streets to reacquaint myself with my beloved cityís energy. [Read More]

A part of me is always in Florence

Friday, August 29, 2014

I miss Florence. Not in a way that doesnít allow me to be happy elsewhere, but in a way that doesnít allow me to ever forget my beloved city. I donít hold my breath when I am away from Florence, but almost. These six weeks in California and France have been way too long for me. Itís not that I havenít enjoyed my time away, but I still miss Florence and mostly how I feel when I am there. I long to return to my beloved cityís embrace where love flows so easily in and out of me like my breath. [Read More]

Unplanned trip to the US

Friday, August 15, 2014

A month ago while I was in Florence, I received a phone call that you dread when you are an expat. My brother called me to tell me that his wife had passed away. I quickly made plans to return to California as soon as possible so I could arrive a couple of days before my sister-in-lawís service. After living so many years overseas, these calls are the ones that make being an expat difficult. No matter where your loved ones live, you canít always be there so you do what you can. I wish I could spend more time with my loved ones in California, but itís not easy when an ocean separates us (and they donít all live in the same area either). [Read More]

Cheering for more than one team during the World Cup

Saturday, July 5, 2014

When you are an expat, you walk a fine line between two worlds: where you were raised and where you are currently living. Itís not like you can hold one world in one hand and the other in the other hand; you have to hold onto both worlds with both hands without crushing either one of them. I have the added benefit (and added challenge) of embracing three worlds: Italy, France, and the US. I try to embrace fully the world in which I am right now without negating the other two. At times, it can be a bit challenging especially when there is some international sporting event. For me, the challenge comes around every four years for the World Cup. [Read More]

Florence as friend, teacher, and lover

Saturday, June 14, 2014

My trip home to Florence went by so quickly, but I gained so much this time around. Itís interesting that each time I return home and then go back to France, my understanding of both city increases. Not in a way to define each one better, but to open myself up to discover more around me, to appreciate the details, and to understand that the world is beautiful in all of its complexities. [Read More]

The joys of being in Florence

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The time I spend at home in Florence fills me with so much joy. While I enjoy my time in France, I am always so happy to return to my beloved city. The minute I walked into my apartment on Wednesday, my body relaxed and I felt a wave of joy ripple through me as I looked out onto the Arno. The words that inspired me to move to Florence the first time always come back to me when I return, ďYou are home.Ē [Read More]

Being an expat is a balancing act

Friday, May 30, 2014

The first five months of this year have gone by like a bolt of lightening. I almost canít believe itís almost June. I have been trying to balance my life between Paris and Florence even though at times I have felt more like a Ping-Pong ball bouncing back and forth. Although I am completely settled in each place, I usually need at least one full day to adjust to the language, culture, and rhythm of the city. The double-expat life can be a little exhausting at times; however, it has taught me about the necessity of keeping my life balanced. [Read More]

Exploring and enjoying other cities in Italy

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I love discovering more about Italy. I find Italy to be one of the most interesting countries I have ever visited. Each region (and even each town in a region) varies from the next one. Each place has its own charm that can be unveiled, enjoyed, and appreciated. In France, at the beginning of May we had two Thursdays in a row that were holidays. By taking Friday off, we did a pont (bridge), which allowed us to have two four-day weekends. My beau joined me a week after I returned to Florence and we traveled around Italy. [Read More]

Acts of generosity

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

On Sunday, I walked over to Vivoli for colazione (breakfast). It was only 10am when I arrived, but they had already sold out of bomboloni (cream-filled donuts). I reluctantly chose a cornetto (croissant) instead and my friend who works there placed it on the bar for me. I had been thinking about having a bombolone since I woke up because I ate one the other day and loved it. They remind me of when I first arrived in Florence. Every time I walked into the bar around the corner from my apartment, the guy would set it out for me on a plate and make my cappuccino. [Read More]

Connecting with the Florentines

Saturday, April 26, 2014

I have undoubtedly let Florence into my heart and soul. My beloved city has touched me so profoundly that I have become a better person because of my living here. But it hasnít been just the city that has affected me, but also the people. I have always been rather friendly and open to meeting new people, but after being in Florence for the last ten years, I have realized that my friendliness was initially superficial and now it has deepened thanks to the Florentines. [Read More]

The floodgates have opened

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pasqua (Easter) seems mark the beginning of the tourist season in Florence each year. From my last time home a couple of weeks ago to today, the number of people visiting Florence has definitely increased. While many dislike the large amounts of tourists who ďinvadeĒ the city, I see their arrival more as the beginning of us sharing Florence. Weíve been fortunate to have a few quiet months in Florence since October even if the number of tourists spiked around Christmas. Itís important to appreciate the ebb and flow in Florence because the city has its seasons and rhythm like everything else. [Read More]

My flying prayers have been answered

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Itís not that Iím afraid to fly, but I honestly didnít feel safe in the Avro RJ85 that took me between Florence and Paris. It felt a bit like an economy car that was certainly efficient, but just wasnít as sturdy. When we hit turbulence, it felt more like we were in a car racing over a speed bump. I dislike, however, thinking that my last moment on Earth could be while sitting on an airplane with a bunch of people I donít even know. I probably wouldnít think so much about my mortality if everyone would stop saying, ďHave a safe flight.Ē I used to cringe at the words and once said, ďOf course I will; Iím not flying the plane.Ē Even though my friends mean well, that seed of fear lingered in my head for an hour and a half (the length of my flight between Florence and Paris). [Read More]

Ponte Vecchio as my finish line

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

For my run this morning, I headed toward Ponte San NiccolÚ with the sun glaring in front of me. I tried to look out at the Arno, but the cobblestone sidewalk required more of my attention at times. After crossing the ponte (bridge) and heading back toward town, I was able to take in the city monument by monument. First, I saw the Duomo, then the side of Santa Croce, and above to my left was Piazzale Michelangiolo. Then, I let my eyes fall on the torre (tower) of the Palazzo Vecchio and the Ponte Vecchio. [Read More]

Respite brings about renewed vigor

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Initially I had a few ideas of what I wanted to do on my day off. I imagined myself going to the Uffizi to admire the Nascita di Venere by Botticelli. Then, I thought I would eat lunch at one of my favorite restaurants. In the afternoon, I was hoping to enjoy a tea in the bar at the top of the Giardino Bardini while looking out at Florence. In the end, I didnít do any of that and instead felt more inclined to walk one of my running routes along the lungarno to Ponte San NiccolÚ and then onto the viale (large avenue) that winds its way up to Piazzale Michelangiolo. [Read More]

Florence is my inspiration and my guide

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

When I woke up this morning, I decided to take the day off from work. I had a lot planned to do, but I wasnít feeling very optimistic. Itís odd for me to be in Florence and not feel connected to it. Iíve been here for almost a week and just havenít had a chance to commune with Florence alone. My beau spent the weekend with me and we were able to enjoy the sunny days in Florence over the weekend, but it wasnít enough for me. When I am away from Florence, I feel my connection to weaken just a little bit so when I return I always feel the need to rekindle the flame I have for my beloved city. [Read More]

Tapping into Florenceís energy

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I spent very little time engaged in my beloved city when I was there a couple of weeks ago. Now that I am in France, I miss Florence. I looked out at the Arno from my apartment windows every day when I was home, but I wanted to take in the city a lot more: stroll the streets, walk along the Arno, and maybe even visit a museum. I wanted to open myself up even more to my city, savor it, and bask in it. Florence is unlike any other city I know. Its energy not only inspires me, but it uplifts me, opens my heart, and fills me up with love and joy. No other place on Earth does this for me time and time again. [Read More]

End of February, beginning of a new way

Friday, February 28, 2014

February is the shortest month of the year, but it seemed to have been the longest. In January, I was preparing for the new year by putting all my ducks in a row. As soon as February hit, everything seemed to come to a standstill. Besides being sick for the second half of the month, the lull arrived at the beginning. [Read More]

Divide and conquer

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I usually have a mental list of what Iíd like to do during my trips home to Florence. I never write this list down because I prefer being flexible. I had a few plans to meet up with girlfriends, go to a Fiorentina match, see my naturopata (naturopath), get a massage, visit a few museums, go shopping, and walk around town as much as possible. I was able to do some of what I wanted initially; however, as soon as I arrived, allergies struck me. Then, on Saturday night I caught a cold and two days later, I lost my voice. [Read More]

Buona domenica!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I always forget how delicious domenica (Sunday) is until I am back in Florence. I usually only spend one Sunday a month here, but it is by far the most delightful day of the week. Donít get me wrong: I love the other days too. I like Mondays because they mark the beginning of the week and the door to possibilities; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays because I am in the flow; Fridays because I daydream about the weekend; and Saturdays because I accomplish my personal goals and prepare myself for the next week. And then thereís Sunday, which is the day I get to relax, take care of myself, spend time with loved ones, and luxuriate in any way I see fit. [Read More]

Florence and Paris: being and doing

Saturday, January 18, 2014

When I woke up this morning, I felt as if my life finally made sense. Iíve been trying to balance my two cities and to live fully in both for the past year and a half. It hasnít been simple because I thought I had to choose one over the other, but I love them both for different reasons. Each city has its dominant energy: Florenceís is feminine and Parisís is masculine. For me, these two polar opposites translate into two states: passive and active. Being and doing. [Read More]

Unexpected pleasures

Thursday, January 16, 2014

This morning I intended on going for a cappuccino in Piazza della Signoria since my favorite place is closed for the next two weeks. When I arrived I the piazza, I noticed that it was closed. My only plan B was to go much farther away to CaffŤ Giacosa. I didnít really have the time, but I rushed over anyway because I love the caffŤ and the paste (pastries). [Read More]

No one compliments like the Italians

Monday, January 13, 2014

Itís only when I interact with people in both of my cities on the same day that I realize some major differences. Normally, I accept each culture quite easily and get into the rhythm of the city rather quickly. However, on the day that I travel from one to the other, I stumble through the transition. [Read More]

Passion and determination

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Even though I rarely ever make New Yearís resolutions, I decided that this year I wanted to set a few intentions for 2014. When I think of resolutions, I usually think of things I need or want to improve, but this year isnít about improvement as much as it is about setting a new path for myself and walking down it. This year, I want to be more proactive by defining goals and focusing on them until I complete them. [Read More]

The magic of my two cities

Saturday, January 4, 2014

After spending the holidays with my beau and my sister and her family in both Florence and Paris, I thought about my two cities a little differently. My sister told me how she experienced Florence and Paris and that spawned me to think about them too. I generally try to accept and appreciate my cities as I would a person, and rarely thought to compare them to each other in detail. Living in both cities is a source of great joy for me. [Read More]

A happy expatriate

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

In the middle of November, I wanted to write something to celebrate my nine-year anniversary of living in Florence. I almost canít believe that nine years have passed since I moved back to Florence after my five-year hiatus in the US. Most of my family and friends in the US define me as an expat although thatís not how I would describe myself even though by definition I am an expat. For me, an expat is someone who chooses to live in another country, embraces the new culture, speaks the countryís language, and adapts to its lifestyle. [Read More]

Tapping into my beloved city

Monday, December 9, 2013

During my last trip to Florence, I got off the bus in San Frediano after going out to Scandicci for an appointment. I wanted to walk home along the Arno, enjoy some alone time, and take a few pictures. With each step, I took in the beauty of my beloved city, breathed in its crisp air and felt its energy flow through me. I crossed Ponte alla Carraia and looked over the edge to watch the water flow under my feet and head east. When I looked over at Ponte Santa Trinita and the Ponte Vecchio, I was overwhelmed with joy. [Read More]

Change of plans

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I have learned to go with the punches and not make waves. On the day I was supposed to sign the compromesso (preliminary contract/agreement to purchase), the deal fell through. The apartment I fell in love with back in August was suddenly no longer my future apartment. Technically the apartment was defined as being ďcommercial,Ē yet it was in the process of being changed to ďresidential.Ē Unfortunately, between my bank not accepting it and a miscalculation of the height of the ceilings, the chances of it becoming ďresidentialĒ were practically nil. The owner wasnít going to wait and therefore, I had to move on. [Read More]

Shifts and perceptions regarding my home

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Soon Iíll be celebrating my nine-year anniversary living in Florence. Itís hard to believe that nine years have gone by already. So much has happened in my life in that time. Ever since I moved to Florence the first time in 1997, I have considered Florence my home. Even though I returned to the US for a few years, Florence was still blazing in my heart and I knew that I would call it home again. [Read More]

Florence as a harmonious city

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Some days, the harmony between my beloved city and Mother Nature are so riveting that it takes my breath away. This morning when I headed out for a run and was walking on Ponte alle Grazie, I couldnít help but stare at the Torre di San NiccolÚ. A dark cloud (one of the only ones in the sky) was hovering overhead and rays of sunshine were piercing through the sky shedding bright yellow beams of light down on the torre. It was one of those rare moments when I expected to hear angels to be singing. [Read More]

Not feeling so alone

Sunday, October 27, 2013

This morning I went for a run under the rippled grey clouds and the Arno at my side. I enjoyed the cool air brushing against my face as I ran down the lungarno (road along the Arno). I let my thoughts swirl around me while I took in the beauty of my beloved city. With each breath, I left my stress and worries behind me. [Read More]

Lost in Florence

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I arrived back in Florence last Saturday. I welcomed the warm blast of air that hit me as I walked down the stairs of the airplane. After taking in one deep breath and turning around to see the sun coloring the sky, my entire body relaxed. The words ďI am homeĒ floated in my head. Itís odd for me because I feel at home in Paris especially with my beau, but Florence is my true home where I feel more relaxed, nurtured, and loved. [Read More]

Last beach trip of the summer

Monday, August 26, 2013

My girlfriend and I planned on taking a day trip to the beach yesterday because it was my last weekend in Florence before heading back to Paris. We made plans to go to Viareggio because itís the easiest beach to get to from Florence. I hadnít been to Viareggio in many years and didnít have a great memory of the beach, but decided to go anyway. [Read More]

What do they know?

Friday, August 23, 2013

When I told many of my friends and acquaintances that I was going to stay in Florence an extra week to search for my apartment, ďtheyĒ said that it wasnít worth it. Their excuses were that agencies are closed and owners are still away on vacation. Before taking off for Florence, I emailed about 10 agencies to visit apartments that I saw on-line. I immediately received two responses, which were not positive. Right before arriving in Florence, one agency told me that I could visit an apartment, which was the one I saw on Tuesday. On Thursday afternoon, after not hearing anything for a few days, another man called me on the phone to visit an apartment that I had enquired about. I went to visit it on this morning with my girlfriend. [Read More]

Apartment hunting begins

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I had initially planned on returning to Paris with my beau on Monday, but instead I decided to stay an extra week in Florence. My main motivation is because Iím looking for an apartment to buy so I can finally set down my roots. For the past few weeks, Iíve been searching on the Internet. I sent out a few requests, but so far (mostly because many are still on vacation) I havenít received many responses. [Read More]

Rekindling my love for Florence

Monday, August 19, 2013

If the romance disappears, love can certainly fade. At least thatís what I believe. Florence may be my home, but I canít let the romance or love fade by not showing my beloved city some love. After visiting Tuscany on Thursday and Friday with my beau, I wanted to spend the rest of our time together enjoying Florence. These last three days, I took my beau around town to visit my favorite chiese (churches), musei (museums), trattorie/ristoranti (restaurants), and bars (cafťs). When I get the chance to visit my beloved city as a tourist, I definitely feel myself open up and appreciate her even more. [Read More]

Enjoying Tuscany to its fullest

Friday, August 16, 2013

When we got on the two-wagon train this morning, I didnít think the day would go well. The platform was packed with people going to Siena and the train was so small people were standing in the aisles. I was one of the lucky ones seated with my beau at my feet. We got off a couple of stops before Siena at Poggibonsi to catch a bus to San Gimigniano. I hadnít been back to visit this Tuscan hillside town in years and was eager to take my beau there. [Read More]

The Leaning Tower, the beach, and a sunset

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Tuscan countryside is a blur from the window of the train. I try to focus on the rustic buildings in the distance, but am easily distracted by the large fields of girasoli (sunflowers). Its burst of yellow always puts a smile on my face. My beau and I planned on going to trip at the last minute and hopped on a train this morning. I canít even remember the last time I went to visit Pisa, maybe about 8 years ago. [Read More]

Home sweet Florence

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Itís been a month since Iíve last come home to Florence. I visited a couple of beautiful places, but nothing ever compares to my beloved city. When my plane touched down, I couldnít wait until I could walk down the airplane steps to finally breathe in my beloved cityís air. [Read More]

Growing roots in Florence

Friday, August 9, 2013

When I started my new blog a year ago, I pictured my new life a little differently. I thought that I would live in Paris and not in the banlieu (suburbs) and I thought that Iíd spend two weeks in Florence and two weeks in Paris. Instead I only spend about one week in Florence per month and the rest of my time in a Parisian banlieu with my beau. It has taken me at least a year to adjust to the choices Iíve made. I am happy and grateful, but there are a few adjustments Iíd still like to make. [Read More]


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Ciao a tutti!
I'm Melinda and I've been living in Florence since 2004 when I began writing this blog. I call Florence "my beloved city" because she has given me so much and continues to inspire and fascinate me. If you don't see any posts from me here, I am probably in France and blogging on My Heart in Two Places.


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