by Melinda Gallo

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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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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