by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Florence's beauty is love

Beauty is not just pleasing to the eye; itís also pleasing to the heart and soul. Iím fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but it isnít enough for me to just fall asleep and wake up in Florence every day. I do my best to take the time to walk around Florence so that I can admire and appreciate her every day. I always carry my iPhone in my pocket so that Iím ready to take a picture the moment I see something that inspires me. Inevitably a lot inspires me and I take a lot of pictures on my walks.

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Living in Florence :: Being supported by Florence

This year has been an intense one for me. I didnít realize the intensity of it until I went to California at the end of July. All of a sudden, everything came to a halt when I fell ill. For three weeks, I was tired and feverish. I tried to get better, but my body just needed a break. The only thing that made me feel better was doing absolutely nothing. All the plans I had made for my trip were cancelled and I even missed my friendís wedding, which was one of the main reasons of my going to California.

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Living in Florence :: Embracing the hope of a new day

At 7am this morning, I opened up my shutters and got excited when I saw the vibrant pink, light blue, and gold sky. I stood gazing out at the sky, but buildings blocked my view. I debated for about a minute whether I was really going to go outside or not. I really wanted to, but I hadnít even had my tea yet and was just waking up. I looked out again at the sky and I just couldnít resist going outside. I threw on my sweats, grabbed a jacket, laced up my sneakers, and raced out the door.

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Living in Florence :: Chasing sunsets and finding peace

For the past couple of weeks, I have tried to go outside as often as possible to watch the sunset. I initially thought that I just wanted to observe the sky change color Ė from blue to yellow to orange and pink Ė as the sun inched its way down the sky. What I realized, however, after going out a couple of evenings in a row was that the sunsets were allowing me to be more present. I was able to enjoy a peaceful moment in which I truly appreciated not just the day, but also my life and where it had brought me.

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Living in Florence :: Sunrise stroll along the Arno

When the church bells rang five times this morning, I was surprised that I was fully awake. I looked out the window and saw that it was already light outside. The sun hadnít risen high enough yet for the ponte (bridge) to cast its long shadow on the Arno so I thought that I would finally go outside to take some photos. I had wanted to get up early to take photos of my beloved city and never woke up early enough. Even if I didnít plan on it, it was actually the best thing I could do on a Sunday morning.

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Living in Florence :: Mesmerized by the fireworks for San Giovanni

In the late evening, I always enjoy a walk along the Arno and stop on a ponte (bridge) to take a photo of the sunset. Last night, however, I was on Ponte alle Grazie for a completely different reason: to watch the fuochi díartificio (fireworks), which we call ďfochiĒ in Florence to celebrate the Festa di San Giovanni, Florenceís feast day. I have only seen the fochi a couple of times since Iíve been living here. A few years ago, I watched the fireworks from Ponte San NiccolÚ and wrote about it in a blog entry.

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Living in Florence :: My home in Florence

In the morning, the city hums outside my apartment windows. Shortly after the sun rises, I am awakened by the garbage truck that beeps as it reverses into position in the piazza below. I bask in the sounds of my beloved city as it awakens. I slowly get up when I hear the church bells ring seven times. At the same time, I hear the workmen at the cantieri (construction site) in the piazza arrive and greet each other. These are some of the familiar sounds in my neighborhood that I associate with being home in Florence.

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Living in Florence :: Enjoying the unpredictable weather

This summer more than ever the weather seems to be a bit quirky in Florence. Almost ever day, the weather surprises me by how it can change so quickly and dramatically. It could be sunny in the morning, then itíll begin to rain, and just when you least expect it, the sun reappears. Yesterday, we had a temporale (thunder shower) in the afternoon and then in the early evening the skies cleared and made way for a lovely sunset.

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Living in Florence :: Florence nurtures me back to my heart

After being in Paris for two weeks, something shifted in me. The city did not change, but I did. At the beginning of this week, I felt completely empty. I tried many different things to cheer myself up, but nothing seemed to work. Running didnít give me a high, I wasnít inspired to take any pictures, and my writing projects didnít excite me anymore. When I was in Florence just a few weeks ago, I had focused on one writing project in particular and was happily working on my fourth draft. But after returning to Paris, I felt completely empty as if I had nothing to write.

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Living in Florence :: Nourished by both Tuscany and Florence

Itís not just because I have been physically living in Florence for over ten years that it is my home. Florence has a powerful energy that I enjoy and appreciate. Itís a city that not only inspires me, but also supports me. I love Florence more than any other place in the world. Whenever I go somewhere else, I wonder if maybe it could become as special as Florence, but no matter where I go the answer is always no.

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Living in Florence :: Taking the time to smell the roses

I always look forward to being in Florence during the month of May. Itís when I get to admire the flowers in Florence. Every morning this week, I looked out the window to see if the weather was good to go to the Giardino Bardini to have a walk around, but unfortunately I was either busy or the weather was a little quirky. Yesterday evening, I walked along the Arno toward Ponte Santa Trinita in the hopes of catching the sunset. When I saw that it was a bit overcast, I crossed the Ponte Vecchio and turned left down via dei Bardi.

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Living in Florence :: Touching down in Florence

When the pilot announced that we were beginning our descent, I peered out the airplane window. After admiring the French countryside divided into well-defined sections of different colors, the snow-capped peaks of the Alps, and then the vast Mediterranean Sea, I was happy to finally see the hilly and vibrant green Tuscan countryside with a few houses sprinkled around it. As the plane fluttered in the sky and then flew through a couple of large, fluffy clouds, I spotted Florence in the distance. My beloved city is easy to recognize because of the sea of light colored buildings with terracotta rooftops and the Duomo standing out in the center.

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Living in Florence :: Searching for an apartment to call home

About a year and a half ago, I almost purchased an apartment in Borgo Allegri situated between Piazza Ciompi and Piazza Santa Croce. I thought it was my dream apartment, albeit not that large, because of the fabulous location and the spectacular view of the neighboring rooftops and the Duomo in the distance. As I got closer to the date to sign off on it, I began to feel dread instead of joy. I contemplated what to do even though I knew that I had to back out. I thought it would be the perfect place for me and had even planned out where I was going to put my desk so I could look up at the Duomo.

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Living in Florence :: Experiencing the dawn of a new day

Love is the only reason I can give as to why I stood in the dark to take photos of Florence last week. I dragged myself out of bed before the sun came up, bundled myself up, and rushed outside where it was -3į C. After a few days of clear blue skies, I wanted to capture the beauty of my beloved city as it was just waking up. I had never made an effort to take photos of Florence at sunrise, but the night before thatís all I could think of. Ever since I have been living in Florence, I have come to admire the way the sun enhances the beauty of my beloved city. The weather affects how Florence appears: sometimes the colors are more vibrant and other times less so. My favorite effect of the sun is the reflection of a ponte (bridge) and palazzi (buildings) on the Arno river.

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Living in Florence :: Reveling in Florence in the off-season

The tourist off-season in Florence can feel like a dream. Especially if the weather permits as it has been, Iím able to walk around town as if it were all mine. Today, I strolled along the Arno and wandered through the centro storico (historical center) without always watching where Iím going. I brought my reflex camera with me so that I could take a few pictures. Ever since I got on Instagram, I have been taking photos with my iPhone. I love it because itís so handy, but the quality isnít the same. I have become rather reluctant to lug my cumbersome camera with me, but every time I do I am happy because I was able to take some amazing photos.

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