by Melinda Gallo

This morning I couldn’t wait to go for a walk up to Piazzale Michelangiolo. After arriving last night, I was ready to get up to the piazzale to see my city in its entirety. Even though Saturday was warm and sunny, it was foggy and cool Sunday morning. I dashed out of our apartment and walked briskly across Ponte alle Grazie and along the Arno up to the Viale Michelangiolo.

Read More

Living in Florence :: Last afternoon in Paris

I couldn’t wait to enjoy my last few hours in Paris before heading back to Florence. It was a perfect spring day with the sun warming up the cool air. I walked down the rue de Grenelle, where I was staying, to the Invalides. Boys were playing soccer on the grass and tourists were navigating the streets with their maps opened as they walked along the large sidewalks of the esplanade. I cut through the soccer game along the stone walkway that cuts the grass diagonally to get to the métro station. Instead of taking a métro, I hopped on the RER to Saint Michel. I wanted to see the Notre Dame and the Seine before taking off. The first thing I saw in Paris when I arrived two weeks ago was the Notre Dame, and I thought it’d be good to end my trip with it as well.

Read More

Spring has finally arrived in Paris today. My marito (husband) told me that spring arrived last week in Florence. I was jealous when he said the sun was shining brightly because when I looked out the windows, the skies here in Paris were grey. The temperatures finally rose enough today to reach the mid 70’s (20’s in Celsius) that we opened the windows in our office for the first time.

Read More

For the last three months I have spent half my time in Paris and the other half at home in Florence. I am now back in Paris in the middle of my third two-week trip. At the beginning of the year, I would never have imagined that I’d be traveling back and forth to Paris for work. I always thought I would return to Paris some day until I moved to Florence. Even though my home is Florence, Paris holds a very special place in my heart. And, I feel fortunate to be able to come and spend so much time here.

Read More

Before leaving for Paris yesterday, I felt a little anxious about my trip. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go to Paris, but I felt I hadn’t enjoyed my beloved city enough before taking off again. I had time to meet up with friends and catch quick glimpses of the city, but I wasn’t able to stroll the streets, take many photos, or enjoy the beginning of spring in Florence.

Read More

Living in Florence :: Reaching out

Earlier this week, a dear friend had suggested that we walk up to San Miniato on Saturday morning. After a few rainy and then sunny days, yesterday ended up being overcast. I was excited to visit San Miniato because I hadn’t gone there in at least a year. After enjoying a cappuccino and pasta (pastry), we walked under the large wooden doorway of the ancient mura (wall) and made our way to the stairs. We hiked up the wide stone steps, leading up the hill to Piazzale Michelangiolo.

Read More

Living in Florence :: Celebrating 150 years of unification

In less than two weeks, the Italians organized a festa (holiday) that they have never celebrated before today. On March 17, 1861, Italy was unified. Most countries would have celebrated that festa every year, but in Italy no one has ever declared it a national festa. And even though it is festa today. It will not be next year. Most Florentines I know aren’t enthusiastic about the unification of Italy or this festa. They, like most Italians, identify themselves first from the city where they come from and then the country. My friends are Florentines first and Italians second.

Read More

I returned to a rainy city after my two-week stay in Paris. I haven’t been out much to see the city, but I do watch the Arno with great joy. Its color is now a light brown and the level is getting higher by the hour. The one thing I have done since my return is meet up with my Florentine friends. After my nostalgic Sunday in Paris, I was happy that on Monday morning I could go to via dei Neri to say hello to all my negozianti (shopkeepers) with whom I have become friends with over the years.

Read More

Living in Florence :: Last morning in Paris

Before heading back to Florence this afternoon, I decided to have breakfast at Angelina’s. I hadn’t yet been during my two trips to Paris this year. Every time I have visited Paris in the past, I have always made my way there. Their hot chocolate is world-renowned, and I couldn’t wait to enjoy it. I have walked by a few times to check it out, but the line to get a seat was usually long. I was pleased when I arrived this morning to find that there was no line at all.

Read More

After being in Paris almost two weeks, I have realized some things are different for me here. When I'm in Paris, I tend to make choices with my head; however when I’m in Florence, I tend to make them with my heart. I try to always choose what feels right to me, which may of course not always be logical, but when I’m in Paris I feel as if I can cut through my emotions more. I wonder if they are just clearer when I’m in Paris or if they are fewer.

Read More

Another change occurred in my life a month ago: I made the decision to discontinue my Expats in Florence column. Today, in fact, the last article I wrote will be published. It was not an easy choice for me to make, but one that feels right to me. I enjoyed meeting so many expats, interviewing them, and writing about them; however, after two years, I didn’t feel that same passion I had when I started. I felt I had done exactly what I wanted to accomplish with the column, and was pleased to let it go.

Read More

While I am in Paris, Italian begins and ends my day, I speak French during the day, and write in English. I talk to myself in a mix of languages though. Sometimes, I’m not even sure which language I’m using. Here it’s mostly French and some English while when I’m in Florence, it’s a mix of Italian and English. When I was learning Italian initially, I would always speak to myself in Italian. I found it an effective way for me to immerse myself in the language. I find it a little more challenging to juggle three languages than when I’m juggling only two. Usually, my brain divides them into "my" language and "foreign" language.

Read More

Living in Florence :: Writing in St. Germain-en-Laye

My returning to Paris for longer periods of time has brought me many gifts. What’s interesting is that I never did choose Paris, just like I never really chose Florence. I was hired to work in Paris, even though I wanted to return to Lyon where I studied for one year. And with Florence, I was told it was the only place in Italy where I could learn Italian without having to contend with a dialect.

Read More

Since the beginning of the year, many things in my life have changed. I might be an odd duck, but I embrace change. Florence fosters change and doesn't allow me to be stagnant even if I tried. I have learned to welcome change because no matter how painful it might have been to change, so many gifts arrived. Fortunately, my private life (my husband, my family, and friends) is the part that is calmer right now.

Read More

To start off my first full day in Paris, I went to the café on the corner right above the métro to have colazione (breakfast). Because none of the local supermarkets were open, I didn’t have anything to eat at home. Once inside the café, I sat down at a table near the tall windows. While I was waiting for my café and croissant to arrive, I realized that there were many differences between Vivoli, where I went yesterday, and the Parisian café I was in this morning.

Read More