by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: May Day

Today is Festa dei lavoratori (Labor Day) in Italy. The city seemed so quiet this morning when I woke up. There were no buses and hardly any cars outside in the street. Almost every shop on my street was closed even though a few restaurants and bars were open. It wasn't until I walked out to Santa Croce that crowds of people seemed to just appear. Because most of the museums were closed today for the festa (holiday), the churches and gardens were busier than usual.

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After having such exceptionally warm weather these past few weeks, today it cooled down tremendously and began to rain. When I walked in front of the Duomo today there were huge crowds of people lining up to get into the Duomo. I had never seen it so busy downtown before. Although for the past few days this past weekend I've said the same thing every day. Either things have changed or I never noticed it was as crowded as it is.

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Today I invited four of my new friends to get together for a drink at a terrace bar that Karen, another one of my new girlfriends, introduced me to. I promised that I wouldn't divulge its location on my blog, and so I am adhering to her wishes.

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With such the huge change has just occurred in my life, I realize that most of the sadness I feel is about the future. All the hopes and dreams that Dave and I built together now have to be buried and mourned. I am making a concerted effort to live more in the present: the only place where I can actually make a change.

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For the first time ever in my life, I decided to run through Florence this morning. I have never done that before in any city that I have lived in. I usually like to run in parks where I'm in an enclosed space and it's acceptable to run, or in the gym where I can regulate my speed and distance.

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My new life in my old city has proven to be quite interesting. As luck would have it, I met one girl a few weeks prior and we have become great friends. Add to that, a few women who read my blog have come to Florence for a visit and want to meet up with me. So I have been busy meeting new people, confiding in them, and receiving a lot of wisdom, joy, and support in exchange.

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Dave and I have decided to go our separate ways. He left for the US this morning, and I will be staying in Florence. The apartment now seems quite empty without him here, but I have to get used to his absence and learn to live alone again. In this way, I hope to find my happiness, which seems to be hiding behind a few dark clouds, once again.

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I've been walking around centro (downtown area) a lot lately and have finally admitted to myself that Florence is overcrowded with tourists. I avoid the front of the Duomo as much as possible because I can't seem to not ruin someone's picture or bump into people backing up as they look around.

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Living in Florence :: Vivicittà a Firenze

Today there was a half marathon (21 km) around the city of Florence organized by Vivicittà. The gara (race) started and finished in piazza Santa Croce. My friend Simone decided he wanted to run it just a few days ago. He asked me, but I haven't run outside in ages and I didn't think I could do a half marathon.

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With my sister and her family, we've been eating dinner out almost every night during their stay in Florence. When I was in Paris, I had a hard time enjoying the food as I think I'm now more used to Italian cooking. I was unable to appreciate it to its fullest as I had in previous visits.

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Living in Florence :: Day trip to Bologna

I hadn't been to Bologna since my first extended trip to Italy in 1996. A lot of my friends have told me how beautiful it is and I remember having quite fond memories of my visit. We were trying to think of a place to go that wasn't far from Florence and since my sister and her family have already visited a lot of Tuscany other times, Rome, Cinque Terre, and Venice, so we decided to go to Emilia-Romagna for a small change.

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Yesterday we took a flight back to Pisa. I usually never take the train from Pisa to Florence only because I like that we don't stop and that it's very comfortable. For the first time, it was actually completely full; one girl had to sit in the front where staff people generally sit. I felt excited about returning to Florence during the trip and just couldn't help but look out the window.

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Today was the best day I had in Paris. I was able to spend the day with my eight-year old niece alone. It was such a treat to take her around the city and spend some time with her. She's one of the people I truly miss the most, and I'm trying to spend as much time with her as I can while she's here visiting me.

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Living in Florence :: My old neighborhood in Paris

Today, I met up with one of my best friends at a restaurant on Avenue de la Grande Armée, which is a large avenue that heads toward La Défense from the Arc de Triomphe. I arrived a little early after taking the métro, so I sat on a park bench to take in the city. I used to cross the Champs Elysées quite often and never really noticed all the cars, scooters (which are new since I lived here), motorcycles, and trucks. The sounds of the city are deafening: horns honking, breaks screeching, and sirens blaring. A few people walked by, but not many were talking.

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Living in Florence :: Le Musée Marmottan

No visit to Paris is ever complete without seeing the Eiffel tower. We were planning on taking the elevator up to the second and possibly third level, but the wait was too long this afternoon, so we just walked up to it and then walked to Trocadéro, where I took this photo. Before going to the Eiffel tower, we visited the Musée Marmottan in the 16th.

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