by Melinda Gallo

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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On Friday, Florence was breathtaking with snow falling for eight continuous hours. I was mesmerized by the steady flow of flakes floating down from the sky. I sat in a restaurant for lunch with a friend and we watched the streets, sidewalks, and cement benches in the piazza disappear under white mounds of snow. With the city glowing at night from the reflection of the street lights on the snow, there was a sort of excitement that hung in the air.

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Living in Florence :: The day after

This morning I couldnít wait to get outside to take photos of the snow. It was almost difficult for me to sleep with the glow from the snow on the ground reflecting the street lights into our apartment. I woke up and ran outside this morning with the joy and excitement of a child on Christmas morning wanting to open presents.

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Living in Florence :: Una bellezza unica

With temperatures below zero this morning, I was happy to stay in to keep warm. Yesterday was too cold for me already. At around noon, the snow theyíve been predicting all week began falling. At first, it was light and the sky was filled with floating snowflakes. It was exciting to see the streets and sidewalks turn white. I took a few pictures from the window of our apartment, but I was looking forward to going outside.

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It looked warmer outside with the clear blue skies and sun shining down on the river this morning when I peeked out the window. I knew the temperatures were low (2įC/35įF), and they have been for some time, but I didnít realize how cold it really was until I opened the front door to our building.

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Besides my work schedule, the holiday season approaching, and my personal projects, Iíve had little time to enjoy my city lately. Every morning when I woke up, Iíd say, ďTomorrow Iíl go for a stroll around town, bring my camera, and enjoy the city.Ē But that day with a few extra hours in it never arrived. By the end of the week, I was a little sad sad especially since for a couple of days I didnít even walk out of my apartment. On most days, I often stare out the window to look out at what is going on outside: I admire the Arno and watch cars go in one direction while people walk in the other.

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Living in Florence :: Albero di Natale davanti al Duomo

Before meeting up with Alessandro for lunch, I darted through Piazza della Signoria through the crowds of people, some taking in the view of the Palazzo Vecchio and others snapping pictures in front of it. I rushed down via Calzaiuoli avoiding the people entering and exiting the shops with large bags. At via del Corso, I bumped into a few friends and chatted for a little bit.

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Living in Florence :: Christmas is in the air

Without Thanksgiving in Florence, I have other cues that Christmas is coming. Besides being the beginning of December, the city is already alit with lights strung up between buildings on many of the streets. For a few days, they were up, but not all were turned on until recently. The one thing that always signals the coming of Christmas is the Mercato tedesco di Natale (German Christmas market) in Piazza Santa Croce, which opened up yesterday.

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Even though Thanksgiving isnít celebrated in Italy, I still paused and gave thanks today. I didnít have a special dinner to go to, I didnít see any family members, and I didnít have the day off. But Thanksgiving, I realized, isnít about all of that: it is about being thankful. And I am.

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Living in Florence :: Taking photos in the rain

This morning, I met up with Kristin, a professional photographer from the States. She came to Florence for a few weeks to let herself get inspired and take photos of the city and food. We had met up once before for a caffŤ, and decided to meet again to take photos together. When we first saw each other today, the sky had cleared up a little and we thought it had stopped raining. Unfortunately, it rained off and on all day.

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