by Melinda Gallo

I realized this morning when I went for a walk up to Piazzale Michelangiolo how different my life is when Iím in Florence and when Iím in Paris. When I was in Paris, I went running every day and only took one day off. Now that Iím back in Florence, I went running the first day, took a day off and went for a walk two days in a row. I like how in Florence I have more time to enjoy the day and take it a little slower.

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Thereís a big piece of me that stays in Florence when I leave. It wasnít until I got on the plane to go to Paris that I realized that my writerís voice seemed to get quieter as I flew away from Florence. I found it odd how each time Iím in Paris, my desire to write becomes weaker. At first, I thought it was because when I go to Paris I focus on my job and write a lot, but the day before I returned to Florence, that little voice came back to me.

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On the day before I leave for Paris, I strolled down my beloved cityís streets in silence. I wanted to kiss every stone, building, monument, and church. All I could see was beauty. I wanted to capture every piece of my beloved city and tuck them in my pocket to take with me. Even though I enjoy my time in Paris, I find it painful to leave Florence each time. My heart breaks a little when I know that I have to be away from my life in my beloved city with my husband and friends.

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After my run this morning, I walked over Ponte alle Grazie where I saw two women taking photos of the Ponte Vecchio. I smiled as I passed them: I was happy that they were appreciating my beloved cityís beauty. I too looked out at the Ponte Vecchio and thought how fortunate I am to be able to admire it every day. Besides feeling in my own element here, I am fortunate to live in a place I love and appreciate so much.

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After having lunch with friends visiting Florence yesterday, I decided to visit the Basilica di San Lorenzo. I hadnít visited the basilica in a long time and felt the desire to do so because we had lunch only a block away. Once I entered the basilica, I slowly walked past the large frescoes and bronze pulpits. I didnít remember the basilica being so grand, and was so happy to have decided on visiting it.

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Today when I walked down a narrow, and less frequented, street near our apartment to go to the mercato (market), my mind began to wander. It happens a lot to me when I am walking alone. I become mesmerized by the rhythm of my footsteps, the stone streets, and the buildings around me. This morning, I found myself thinking about how beautiful Florence is even though itís not perfectly clean or orderly. I would love to see my beloved city be cleaner, but I can easily look past its apparent blemishes to perceive its true and natural beauty.

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Living in Florence :: A stroll along the Arno

With the sun setting in the clear sky this evening, I decided to walk along the Arno from Ponte Santa Trinita toward Ponte alle Grazie. I hadnít strolled along the Arno since I returned to Florence a few days ago. I have only walked through town to buy fruits and vegetables at the ortolano (green grocer) behind via Calzaiuoli because the one close to our apartment is closed. I havenít had that much free time to delight in my beloved city.

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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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