by Melinda Gallo

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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Living in Florence :: Views that inspire me to write

This morning I couldnít wait to get out of my apartment so I could take advantage of my day off from work. Over the weekend, I decided to spend Monday soaking up my beloved city and focusing on my writing projects. I rushed downstairs and strolled along the Arno. With the Ponte alle Grazie behind me, I headed toward Ponte Vecchio. I had made mental plans of how I would spend my morning. I usually write at home, but felt a pull to write somewhere new.

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Living in Florence :: Absence makes my heart grow fonder

I am often asked if I had to choose between Florence and Paris, which city would I live in. Every time, I say Florence. However, the real answer is that my love for Florence has only increased by my also living in Paris. The amount of love I have in my heart has multiplied and has not been divided. I didnít know it would be possible to have this much love in my heart for two cities.

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Living in Florence :: Breathing in my beloved city

The spike of tourists during this holiday season seemed to be greater than I had ever experienced. I might have also noticed it more because I was walking around Florence much of the time with my beau. We could never walk hand in hand because of the crowded streets. We got jostled quite a bit and it was at times quite frustrating. My beau took off on Sunday so unfortunately he didnít get to experience my beloved city as of Tuesday evening.

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I love how Florence always keeps me open. Even after more than 12 years, I am still learning about her and discovering more each day. Florence isnít a city that you live in, visit, or read about and think you ďknowĒ it. You can learn facts about it, study its history, explore the streets, but you canít truly know her deeply without taking time to be connected to her. Florence is almost like a person. You can meet her, admire her, acquaint yourself with her, but to know her, you have to create a rapport with her. You have to spend time with her and try to experience her in every season.

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Living in Florence :: In Florence to celebrate the New Year

Itís the first day of the year and I am in my beloved city. My beau and I took a three-day trip to Venice and returned in time to celebrate the New Year in Florence. The streets were virtually silent after last nightís festivities that went on until early this morning. When I woke up this morning, the only sound I heard was the church bells echoing throughout the city on the hour. With bright blue skies overhead, we walked along the Arno while only a handful of people were wandering the streets. I was eager to go to the Ponte Vecchio because I was hoping that the ďBuon 2015Ē sign would still be hanging on the ponte (bridge), and it was.

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