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Absence makes my heart grow fonder

Saturday, January 24, 2015

I am often asked if I had to choose between Florence and Paris, which city would I live in. Every time, I say Florence. However, the real answer is that my love for Florence has only increased by my also living in Paris. The amount of love I have in my heart has multiplied and has not been divided. I didnít know it would be possible to have this much love in my heart for two cities.
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Breathing in my beloved city

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The spike of tourists during this holiday season seemed to be greater than I had ever experienced. I might have also noticed it more because I was walking around Florence much of the time with my beau. We could never walk hand in hand because of the crowded streets. We got jostled quite a bit and it was at times quite frustrating. My beau took off on Sunday so unfortunately he didnít get to experience my beloved city as of Tuesday evening.
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Always discovering more about Florence

Saturday, January 3, 2015

I love how Florence always keeps me open. Even after more than 12 years, I am still learning about her and discovering more each day. Florence isnít a city that you live in, visit, or read about and think you ďknowĒ it. You can learn facts about it, study its history, explore the streets, but you canít truly know her deeply without taking time to be connected to her. Florence is almost like a person. You can meet her, admire her, acquaint yourself with her, but to know her, you have to create a rapport with her. You have to spend time with her and try to experience her in every season. [Read More]

In Florence to celebrate the New Year

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Itís the first day of the year and I am in my beloved city. My beau and I took a three-day trip to Venice and returned in time to celebrate the New Year in Florence. The streets were virtually silent after last nightís festivities that went on until early this morning. When I woke up this morning, the only sound I heard was the church bells echoing throughout the city on the hour. With bright blue skies overhead, we walked along the Arno while only a handful of people were wandering the streets. I was eager to go to the Ponte Vecchio because I was hoping that the ďBuon 2015Ē sign would still be hanging on the ponte (bridge), and it was.
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The year ahead

Friday, December 26, 2014

I havenít written as much on my blog as I would have wanted to this year. I actually did write a lot for my blog, but in the end didnít publish what I wrote. I was unsure about how to manage my two blogs and I finally came to the conclusion that I have to separate them a bit more. I will now concentrate only on Florence in this blog. I, of course, couldnít help but share my beloved city with you all, which is why I took a lot of photos of Florence and shared them on my Instagram account. [Read More]

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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Ciao a tutti!
I'm Melinda and have 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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