by Melinda Gallo

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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This morning, I wasnít in the mood to go for a run. Instead, I went for a walk up viale Michelangiolo to my favorite piazzale (large piazza). I havenít been up there in a while and missed the view of my beloved city. Before taking off, I grabbed my iPhone because I thought Iíd take a few candid shots of the path I go up. I didnít want to bring my macchina fotografica (camera) because I didn't want to be weighed down by it.

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This years is certainly not wanting me to stand still. With my work taking me to Paris two weeks a month and my own writing projects shifting, now we might also be moving apartments. Weíve been in our apartment for the last four years and really had no need to move until now. The piazza below our place (which is usually a parking lot) began to be transformed this morning at 7am. Instead of a handful of cars passing through, the piazza will become a major street for those coming from the lungarno or via dei Leoni/via Proncosolo.

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On my first full day back to Florence yesterday, I went to the Prefettura (Prefecture) for an appointment regarding my Italian citizenship. In the letter that I received last month, they asked me to bring a few documents as well as my American passport, carta díidentitŗ (identity card), and permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay). Before taking off for the States last month, I went to the comune (city hall) to obtain the ones requested.

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I returned from the US this afternoon and was happy to be back in my beloved city. While my plane was landing in Florence, I looked out the window of the airplane and felt my heart melt when I saw the Duomo and the Palazzo Vecchio in the distance. I saw the glistening water in the Arno snake through the city. Itís not just the beauty of the city that I love, but the energy the city consistently emits. I feel its steady flow of love and courage.

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After I returned from Paris on Wednesday, we left for Copenhagen on Friday. We returned to Florence Monday night and took off for California on Thursday morning. At the end of eight days, I had taken seven flights, stopped off in seven countries, and only spent four days in Florence. I was fortunate to have run in the morning because it was the only time I had to enjoy my beloved city. During the days I had in Florence, I mostly had to work and, in my free time, run errands.

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Living in Florence :: A quick trip to Copenhagen

The last thing I thought I would be doing two days after my return to Florence after an 18-day stay in Paris was take off again. My marito (husband) had planned a trip to Copenhagen for us at the beginning of the year because he was going to run in the Copenhagen maratona (marathon). I was excited when he made the reservations, but then was a little less enthusiastic when I realized how little time Iíd be spending in Florence.

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I never met my Italian nonni (grandparents), but thanks to them I was informed today that I was granted Italian citizenship. I had an inkling of this good news when I received a lettera raccomandata (certified letter) while I was in Paris last week. The possibility that I would get my Italian citizenship prompted my previous post about culture. I wondered if I would somehow be different or feel changed, but I realized that I was already changed because I have been living overseas for many years.

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I used to think that I wanted to adopt another culture because I admired it so much. Why not become French, English, or Italian? In reality, however, I think itís almost impossible to completely lose my own culture to fully immerse myself in another one. I certainly consider myself American, but with touches of other cultures. Itís almost as if I have become a collage where each place Iíve lived in has added something, offering more depth, color, and meaning.

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I finally found the time yesterday to visit the Musťe Rodin. Every apartment Iíve rented in Paris hasnít been far from my favorite museum, but I never had time to go. After my morning run and breakfast at a local cafť, I walked down rue de Varenne past the HŰtel de Matignon to the museum. With a long line in front of the museum, I realized that I wasnít the only one who thought it was a perfect morning to visit the Musťe Rodin with the sun shining and cool breeze.

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