by Melinda Gallo

For as long as Iíve been in Florence, I have never sat on the steps of the Duomo. The other evening while I was walking by the Duomo, I saw people sitting on the steps and wondered what it would be like to sit there. Before I left our apartment this morning, I told myself that on my way to run a few commissioni (errands), Iíd stop and sit on the steps. At 11am with the sun finally shining overhead after many rainy and grey days, I sat down on the cold marble steps and watched people walk by while others stopped to take foto (photos).

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I wish I had more time in the day: Iíd take more photos and write more about my beloved city. My other website, Florence from the Heart, dedicated to Florence is an outlet for me and other writers who live in Florence. We each select an aspect of the city and let the words flow from our hearts and out to the readers. I asked Andrea Ponsi, an Italian architect, writer, and artist, at his book presentation last week if he wanted to publish his article on via della Ninna because I enjoyed it.

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Living in Florence :: Tourists enjoying my beloved city

At this time of year, I feel so fortunate to have my morning runs when I get to go around the Arno when the streets are less crowded. Itís a joy not getting stuck in a sea of people in the streets and on the sidewalks. This afternoon, via dei Neri was so packed that I had to change plans completely. Two large, slow-moving crowds were going down the street and turning down a sidestreet. Instead of trying to get past them to take my shortcut, I had to continue down via dei Neri. It was a little longer, but definitely quicker.

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Thanks to one of my blog buddies, I found out about a book presentation for Bella Lingua by Dianne Hales at the Societŗ Dante Alighieri. I had invited a couple of friends to come along, but ended up going alone.

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Itís interesting how sometimes when I wake up and hear the quietness of the city, I become more reflective. Today is Festa della Republicca and at this time normally the motorini (scooters) and cars are circulating the streets below. I recently spoke to another woman about being an expat and a few ideas solidified in my mind. I love it when a chance encounter with someone proves to be insightful and meaningful for me.

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Living in Florence :: Another view of my piazza

I often walk through Piazza Mentana and always enjoy this view of the statue that stands in the middle of the piazza toward the Arno. In the almost three years weíve been in this apartment, Iíve noticed this view and have admired it. Today as I was walking by it, I felt drawn to take a foto (picture). Sometimes I donít have my macchina fotografica (camera) with me and other times I am carrying groceries home and canít be bothered to take a foto

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Each city has its own personality. Most places stir something in us: in some we may feel joy or serenity, while in others we may not be infused with such good feelings. I didnít understand what Florence was all about when I first arrived. I had many signs, but I wasnít able to interpret them. I not only had to have a good grasp of the language, but also I wanted to know a few Florentines very well.

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A few months ago, a professor from Asbury University in Kentucky emailed me to see if Iíd be open to talking with his journalist students if they were to come to Florence. I was of course flattered, but I wondered what I could talk to them about. David, the professor, told me that I could talk about my blog, my ďExpats in FlorenceĒ column in The Florentine and the expats that Iíve interviewed.

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After walking to San NiccolÚ to meet a friend for caffŤ, I stopped in the giardinetto (small garden) in Piazza Demidoff on my way back. Instead of rushing home, I sat down on one of the wooden benches along the sidewalk to take in the city. While the sun was behind me warming me up, the wind whisked by to cool me down.

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At 7:15am this morning I was outside, warming up for my run along the Arno. I hadnít been out running in months and have been waiting to go out for some time now. I put on my music and away I went. At this early morning hour, there were fewer cars and even fewer people walking about. I love looking around especially at the river and up to San Miniato once I am sure that the cobblestone sidewalk below my feet is stable.

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Living in Florence :: A visit to the Giardino dellíIris

I had a couple of hours before lunch today and decided to take a walk up to Piazzale Michelangiolo so I could visit the Giardino dellíIris. With dark clouds looming overhead, I packed an ombrello (umbrella) in my purse and flung my macchina fotografica (camera) around my neck before heading outside.

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This morning I wanted to go to pick up my new passport at the American Consulate and decided that no matter what, Iíd walk along the Arno the entire way. I sometimes head down the narrow and less frequented streets in order to get to my destination quicker, but today I wanted to be near the water.

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I was invited to speak at a friendís class of college students who have been here for a semester. At first, I was a little hesitant to go because the topic was globalizzazione (globalization). I wasnít sure I had anything to add, but my friend told me I did. She wanted me to talk with her students about my living and working in different countries, especially Florence, as well as what Iíve learned from other expats I know and have interviewed.

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This weekend I took a course that took place in a large hotel alongside the Arno. Each day, I walked along the Arno away from the centro (downtown area) toward Ponte San NiccolÚ. I didnít know how much Iíd miss seeing my beloved city until this morning when I was walking to my friendís apartment on via Ghibellina for a chat. I walked to Piazza della Signoria to pick up some brioche (croissants) for us and took a stroll down via Calzaiuoli.

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Living in Florence :: Photo shoot around the city

A young woman emailed me not long ago and asked me if I knew of a fotografo (photographer) who could take foto (photos) of her and her beau. I responded that one of our friends is a professional fotografo who normally does weddings. When I asked him, he was pretty excited because he loves doing servizi fotografici (photo shoots). And since itís not yet the season for weddings, he was free to work with them during the time they wanted to do it.

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