by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: An unexpected sunset

Last Wednesday, I stood alone on Ponte alla Carraia hoping for the sky to change colors. When I reached the lungarno and looked toward Ponte Vecchio, I saw that the sky did not look promising. For a moment, I wondered if I should just go home. I had been working all day and didnít go outside until the early evening. I was determined to watch the sunset as a gift to myself.

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Living in Florence :: Scrolling through my photos on Instagram

The other night when I was unable to fall asleep, I picked up my phone and began scrolling through my photos on Instagram. Itís something I rarely do except to see if I recently posted a similar photo. I felt quite happy browsing through the photos Iíve taken over the past few years because each one is a part of me. I was surprised that so many of the photos were moments I vividly remember. I thought that after a few years or even a few months, I would forget what I was feeling in a specific moment captured in a photo. Often, however, it triggered my memory of the moment.

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Living in Florence :: My heart expands in Florence

We have the opportunity to open our hearts and to love more every day thanks to every person, place, and event in our lives. Without any interaction with others, itís impossible for us to love as much as we do. Some people, places, and events, however, knock slightly harder on our hearts and entice us to open them up just a little bit more. Florence is one of those places for me.

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Living in Florence :: Bidding farewell to Astori

Even though I was fighting off a cold, I couldnít stop myself from going out for a run Thursday morning. Through a few gaps in the gray clouds, the sun cast its bright rays down on the city. My intention was to take a photo of Florence from Piazzale Michelangiolo for Davide Astori, or as we call him ďcapitano (captain).Ē The Fiorentinaís capitano passed away suddenly last Sunday. It was a shock to us here in Florence as well as around the world. It wasnít just because he was a famous soccer player, but because he was a highly regarded man and a beacon of light.

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Living in Florence :: Basking in the Giardino delle Rose

For me, there is something magical about sitting in the Giardino delle Rose. I enjoy hearing the hum of the cars whizzing by in the distance mixed with the sound of the birds chirping in the trees. The various sounds traversing the air remind me of how I'm able to simultaneously embrace all of Florenceís facetsófrom the tranquility of the gardens to the busyness of the city. On a windy day last week, I found myself mesmerized by the rustling of the tree branches in the giardino. Usually they are quite silent, but on that day, they made their presence known.

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Living in Florence :: Back out running to embrace Florence

Every once in a while, I get in a running slump. Itís rare because I normally have no problem motivating myself to go for a run no matter how cold or rainy it might be. However, once I stop running for an extended amount of time, like more than a couple of weeks, I have difficulty getting myself motivated again to get out and run. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to walk up to Piazzale Michelangiolo. I seldom walk up to the piazzale because I generally run up there a few times a week. Unfortunately, since I hadnít gone up for a while due to my latest running hiatus, I had been missing the view of Florence.

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Living in Florence :: Florence radiates love

Every monument, piazza, statue, building, garden, church, bridge, and work of art in Florence reminds us that not only is love only real, but that it is also tangible. When you come to Florence, you donít just see Florenceís beauty and take a mental picture of it. You feel Florenceís beauty permeate your heart. What initially began as pleasure for your eyes quickly becomes love coursing through your veins. I am still amazed to this day at how Florenceís beauty opens up my heart and fills it up with love.

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Living in Florence :: Connecting to Florence as I run

I enjoy connecting with Florence when I walk along the Arno, across the piazzas and bridges, down the streets, and through the gardens. Florenceís energy swirls around with each step. Another way I connect with Florence is by running in and around the city. I especially love running up to Piazzale Michelangiolo along the Arno, up a tree-lined path, down to Porta Romana, across the Ponte Vecchio, and back to the Arno.

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Living in Florence :: Expressing my love for Florence

Everyone expresses love differently. I express my love for Florence through my writing and photography. Each photo I take is a moment in which I held my beloved city in my embrace and she held me. One of my greatest joys is basking in the beauty I experience and capturing it as best I can and then sharing it. Love doesnít want to be hidden or kept secret. Love wants to be expressed, shared, and celebrated.

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Living in Florence :: Opening my heart to experience beauty more fully

After living in Florence for many years, I have discovered what beauty truly is. I initially admired Florenceís external beauty. Like most people, I saw the beauty in her monuments, bridges, gardens, churches, and pastel-colored buildings. I overlooked, for example, the Arno River, the sidewalks, and the street lamps. Nowadays, I embrace Florence in her entirety. It brings me great joy to embrace not just the beauty I see, but the beauty I feel. My beloved cityís wealth lies not in the amount of art and beauty she holds, but in the depth of her heart and soul that has fueled such beauty.

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Living in Florence :: Breathing in Florenceís beauty and energy

I usually take an hour out of my day to watch the sunset. The moment I step outside, I let my intuition take over and lead me to where it wants to go. Sometimes I meander the streets in Florence or walk up the steps to Piazzale Michelangiolo, while at other times I stroll along the Arno River. I like to change locations; however, I do have a few favorites depending on where the sun is setting. For me, it's not enough to just see beauty. I must also experience, embrace, and appreciate Florence's beauty. When I walk around Florence, I try to stay as present as possible. I enjoy looking around me and taking in my surroundings.

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Living in Florence :: Loving the Arno River in Florence

I love the Arno. I often take photos of the Arno River because I love how captivating it is. Besides the lovely reflections of the bridges and buildings on both sides of the river, I also enjoy seeing the different colors bouncing off the sky and onto the Arnoís glimmering surface. I love how mysterious the Arno is because it looks calm on the surface and yet underneath it is certainly tumultuous.

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Living in Florence :: Choosing Florence, choosing love

For me, living in Florence is a choice. I could easily pack up my things and move somewhere else because I have no ties that require me to stay in Florence. I donít stay in Florence because I'm used to living here or because Iíve lived here longer than any other place of my choosing. I choose to remain in Florence because I feel great joy bubbling inside of me every day I wake up in her embrace.

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Living in Florence :: Florence is magical

A while back, I had an early flight to catch for Paris and was going to be away for two weeks. I had only been back to Florence for a short time and felt like I hadnít experienced enough of her before my departure the next day. On the morning of my flight, I woke up an hour earlier so I could walk around Florence and say goodbye to her. By the time, I reached Ponte alle Grazie, the sun hadnít even risen yet. I stood along the low brick wall and decided to watch the sunrise. A great sense of serenity came over me as I listened to the water flowing over the weir in the Arno and observed the birds flying overhead.

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Living in Florence :: Keeping my eyes and heart open in Florence

When Iím walking around Florence, no matter if Iím in a rush or focused on getting to a specific location, I try to keep my eyes and heart open as much as possible. I donít just keep myself open to the beauty I have seen many times, but also to the beauty that I might not have seen yet. I think thatís one of the reasons why I take photos of Florence. I donít just take photos to capture her beauty and share it, but also to remember that she presents more of her beauty to me every day with every step I take.

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