by Melinda Gallo

When I arrived back in Florence on Monday night, a large orange moon hung in the sky. As we drove from the airport to the city, I couldnít keep my eyes off of it. Even though I enjoyed my time in Paris these last two weeks, I was happy to be back in my beloved city. The best part of my trip was that a girlfriend came for a few days and then my marito (husband) and another couple came at the end of my trip. I was happy to do a few tourist things with them because normally I do them alone when I have some free time. Itís wonderful to enjoy a city, but to share it is a joy.

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My routine while I have been in Paris these past two weeks has been to run around the Eiffel Tower. The sun rose early each day before I did and by the time was at the Champs de Mars running down the tree-covered allťes, they were well lit. The first week I was in Paris, there were about ten to twenty people running. This last week, there were only a handful of us.

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I arrived in Paris last Sunday after a long hiatus. It had been over 10 weeks since I had been here last. For most of that time, I was in Florence. It has been since January since I was able to spend a good amount of time there. Even though I enjoy my time in Paris, I do miss my beloved city and even more my marito (husband), my suoceri (in-laws), and my amici (friends). Fortunately, I love my job and enjoy spending time in Paris, but I do miss my life because I feel as if the one I have in Florence is incomplete.

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Before I left for Paris today, I felt a bit out of my own body for the past day or two as if a part of me had already begun the journey to Paris. I realize that going to Paris for two weeks sounds exciting and it is in some sense; however, it can also be stressful fitting my entire life (books, notebooks, pens, running gear, computer, work clothes, play clothes, and all my necessities) into one suitcase. I also am quite sad before I go because I know I will be apart from my beloved city.

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It suddenly hit me today that Iíll be leaving Florence in just a few days. Iím going to Paris again for work. Iím looking forward to my trip because I havenít been since May, but I already miss Florence. I tried not to think too much about leaving Florence, but this morning instead of going for a run, I decided to go for a walk up to Piazzale Michelangiolo so that I could take in my beloved city.

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There is something special about Palazzo Vecchio that I didnít realize until I visited it last Saturday. I have looked up at the torre (tower) every day since I went up the Torre díArnolfo. Each time, I canít stop myself from smiling. So much joy buzzes inside of me that I canít not be happy. I feel that deep connection with a few specific places in Florence, like Orsanmichele, San Miniato, and the Bargello. I didnít think that another place in Florence could become as special as those are to me.

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Living in Florence :: Indimenticabile!

The most indimenticabile (unforgettable) and exciting experience of my Florentine life happened today: I went to the top of the Palazzo Vecchio. Ever since Iíve been in Florence, Iíve walked by the Palazzo Vecchio and looked up, hoping that one day I could go to the top. I heard that years ago people were allowed to go up and have even seen pictures of people who were fortunate to go, but never did I imagine when I woke up this morning that I too would be able to finally live out one of my dreams!

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Living in Florence :: A day at Forte dei Marmi

All week I had been thinking about Thursday. I couldnít wait to plant my feet in the sand and feel the warm water crash against my legs. Because July 14th is a holiday in France and the French company I work for is closed, I thought I would take advantage of the holiday and go to the beach. I was initially going to go to Viareggio because itís the closest beach to Florence, but a friend of mine invited me to come to Forte dei Marmi. Since I had never gone there before, I thought it would be interesting to see it. I had heard a lot about Forte dei Marmi, but I wanted to see for myself.

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Iím fortunate to feel inspired quite easily these days. I usually feel inspired after I write in the mornings, but I seem to be even more inspired during my morning runs. At 7am, I was out the door and decided to run up the lungarno toward Ponte Vecchio instead of away from the centro (downtown area). It was early enough that traffic hadnít yet started and the sidewalks were practically empty.

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It dawned on me today that Iíve been focusing on the wrong things. Iíve bee absorbed with the noisy traffic below our apartment windows and the small space we live in, but I completely forgot out about how wonderful our apartment is. Itís a true chicca (gem).

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We havenít yet decided if we are moving or staying. There are a few reasons why weíd like to move: apartment isnít big enough to have overnight guests and the noise level has become a big high. But, there are so many reasons why we love it here: the view, the neighborhood feel, the people we know here, the terrace, and the overall coziness of the place. I have a desire to change apartments, so I visited a couple after scanning the Internet for hours. A couple of them did inspire me.

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For me, June was a difficult month. I felt the need to let go of a lot of things (including relationships with friends) in my life to see what would naturally stay and what would not. I felt a heavy silence come over me and even thought my well had run dry. I wasnít sure if my tank would fill back up again. I wondered if I should stop writing my blog and if I had anything more to say about my beloved city.

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The last week of June was probably the most stressful Iíve lived through in a long time. Maybe I wasnít the only one who felt the intensity of this last week. It was so bad that I kept my head down and rarely went out. We had a temporale (thunderstorm) on Friday that finally released the pressure. Before that, every day this week was hot and humid. I feel that there is certainly a link between the weather and my attitude. And, I see around me that Iím not the only one who is affected by the weather.

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Since the many changes to the streets of Florence last Thursday, Iíve felt the city is a bit off. Some areas have become pedestrian, like via dei Tornabuoni and Piazza Pitti, and many streets have changed direction. The flow of traffic seems to have shifted and the streets somehow feel awkward to me. For the past few days, I have walked around the city and saw a lot of frustrated and lost people. Today when I walked down via dei Tornabuoni, I felt an emptiness that I have never felt before in Florence.

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Living in Florence :: Solstizio d'estate

For the solstizio díestate (summer solstice), I took a walk around centro (downtown) to enjoy the longest day of the year. At 7pm, the sun was still quite high in the sky, and was setting slowly. The streets were busy even though the shops were closing. Many people were sitting on the terrazze (terraces) of the bars and restaurants in Piazza della Signoria. This evening was the perfect one to enjoy the warm air and brilliant sun.

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