by Melinda Gallo

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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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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