by Melinda Gallo

To start off my first full day in Paris, I went to the cafť on the corner right above the mťtro to have colazione (breakfast). Because none of the local supermarkets were open, I didnít have anything to eat at home. Once inside the cafť, I sat down at a table near the tall windows. While I was waiting for my cafť and croissant to arrive, I realized that there were many differences between Vivoli, where I went yesterday, and the Parisian cafť I was in this morning.

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Living in Florence :: Back to Paris

This morning I walked to Vivoli for a cappuccino and pasta (pastry). I hadnít been there to have colazione (breakfast) in a long time, so it was a wonderful treat for me today. The skies were grey and it was raining lightly, but I still wanted to stroll the streets. I was leaving for Paris at lunchtime and wanted to walk around my beloved city before I left. I love traveling, but I always get a little sad when I have to leave Florence, my marito (husband), my friends, and my life.

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Since Iíve been back in Florence, Iíve been wondering what role the city plays in my happiness. Some people tell me that I must be happy because I live in such a magnificent, charming, and rich city while others Iíve met blame the city for their not being happy. I have finally realized that itís not the cityís job (nor anyone elseís job for that matter) to make me happy. Happiness comes from the inside. Everything external to me (my city, family, friends, job, writing, etc.) can affect me, but they do not dictate my happiness.

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Living in Florence :: Impossible to remain stagnant

Today I walked through Piazza Santissima Annunziata and stood for a few minutes in the piazza. I looked at my old building and was surprised to realize that itís been four years since I moved out of it. My life changed quickly that year, and even though I had to make difficult decisions, they were certainly the right ones for me. I have come to realize that Florence isnít a city where I can be stagnant. And I have a feeling the same is true for others who come to live here as well.

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The place I live in is important to me--maybe even vital. My stay in Paris reminded me of just how much a place can affect me. Since I moved to Florence, I havenít lived anywhere else for an extended period of time as a local, like I just did in Paris. My stay there was enlightening: I hadnít gone back to Paris to live since I left it in 1995. I was able to experience the city again and enjoy it.

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As my plane flew over Tuscany before landing in Florence, the terrain below appeared to be pieced together like a puzzle, fitting together perfectly. I looked out at the area surrounding Florence and was happy to see the terracotta roofs on the low buildings. I loved my stay in Paris even though I saw so little of it, but I did enjoy the energy of the city. Even though I was a little nostalgic leaving Paris, I was suddenly happy to be back in my beloved city.

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Being in Paris is a big change of pace for me. My life in Florence is generally much slower and calmer. It took me a few days to adapt to life here. Besides having to commute to work, having a set time to work each day, speaking French, not seeing the sun until 8am, and, of course, not spending time my marito (husband) and suoceri (in-laws). On the other hand, I am extremely fortunate to have many friends here with whom I have reconnected.

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Living in Florence :: In Paris for work

Before I left Florence on Sunday, I was a little sad. However, I was excited to return to Paris for work for almost two weeks. I hadnít been to Paris since 2007 and hadnít lived there since 1995. I was eager to see how Paris had changed and dive into its splendor. When the taxi driver drove me through the city to get to the apartment, I couldnít help but be reminded of my life here many years ago.

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Living in Florence :: Loving a sunny day

After a foggy day on Wednesday, today the skies were completely cleared. When I saw the weather outside, I couldnít wait to walk along the Arno today at noon to go to an appointment in via dei Serragli. The Arno these days is a cool green. Itís so hypnotic that I enjoy staring into it when I can because it brings me much serenity and joy. While I walked along the Arno, I kept glancing at it to see the light shimmering, the birds floating on its surface, and the muddled reflections.

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Living in Florence :: A quieter city

This morning when I looked out at the Arno, the sky was a blanket of light grey. I heard on the meteo (weather forecast) that it would rain in the early afternoon, so I decided to go for a short walk before it started. I love taking some time to just stroll the streets and look around without running any errands or having to be somewhere specific.

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The last few weeks have reminded me of how much Florence changes on a daily basis. Itís almost as if I can never settle into a routine because change is always just around the corner. Changes can be seen and felt every day: the weather, the air, the number of locals and tourists in the streets, shops opening and closing. I realized just the other day that no two days are ever alike. And if I try to force them to be, no good comes of it. I have learned that the more I go with the flow, the easier things are for me here. Accepting change is crucial to living serenely in this bustling city, but the real challenge is embracing them.

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Living in Florence :: Capturing a special moment in my beloved city

On a whim, I brought along my camera on my walk up to the Piazzale Michelangiolo this morning. The skies were grey and the possibility for rain was high, but I still wanted to take my camera with me. Itís not something I do often, but once in a while I feel the desire to take some pictures along my walk. Today when I made it to Piazzale Michelangiolo, I was rewarded by one of the most colorful and stunning views Iíve seen in a long time.

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Each time I go for a walk up to Piazzale Michelangiolo, I feel energized. Not just because it feels good to my body, but also because it feels good to my heart and soul. I have found it to be the best way for me to start my day. I not only get to experience another facet of the city, but also in different ways. I hear different sounds, like birds chirping, smell different scents, like the trees and grass, and see different views of the city.

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Living in Florence :: First day of the year

Today I was excited to go for a walk up to Piazzale Michelangiolo. The sun was out and the skies were clear. The minute I walked out of our apartment, I was surrounded by people. The lungarno was filled with people strolling toward the centro (downtown center area): Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo. I walked in the opposite direction toward Ponte San NiccolÚ to head up the viale (large avenue).

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On Monday, my friend Simone asked me to assist him with a cooking class at his place because heís not comfortable speaking English. He used to teach at a cooking school in Florence, but since he opened up his new restaurant Artemide in Molino del Piano, he hasnít been teaching as much. Simoneís brother has joined him because he is busy working at the restaurant and tending his orto (vegetable garden).

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