by Melinda Gallo

If the romance disappears, love can certainly fade. At least thatís what I believe. Florence may be my home, but I canít let the romance or love fade by not showing my beloved city some love. After visiting Tuscany on Thursday and Friday with my beau, I wanted to spend the rest of our time together enjoying Florence. These last three days, I took my beau around town to visit my favorite chiese (churches), musei (museums), trattorie/ristoranti (restaurants), and bars (cafťs). When I get the chance to visit my beloved city as a tourist, I definitely feel myself open up and appreciate her even more.

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Living in Florence :: Enjoying Tuscany to its fullest

When we got on the two-wagon train this morning, I didnít think the day would go well. The platform was packed with people going to Siena and the train was so small people were standing in the aisles. I was one of the lucky ones seated with my beau at my feet. We got off a couple of stops before Siena at Poggibonsi to catch a bus to San Gimigniano. I hadnít been back to visit this Tuscan hillside town in years and was eager to take my beau there.

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The Tuscan countryside is a blur from the window of the train. I try to focus on the rustic buildings in the distance, but am easily distracted by the large fields of girasoli (sunflowers). Its burst of yellow always puts a smile on my face. My beau and I planned on going to trip at the last minute and hopped on a train this morning. I canít even remember the last time I went to visit Pisa, maybe about 8 years ago.

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Itís been a month since Iíve last come home to Florence. I visited a couple of beautiful places, but nothing ever compares to my beloved city. When my plane touched down, I couldnít wait until I could walk down the airplane steps to finally breathe in my beloved cityís air.

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When I started my new blog a year ago, I pictured my new life a little differently. I thought that I would live in Paris and not in the banlieu (suburbs) and I thought that Iíd spend two weeks in Florence and two weeks in Paris. Instead I only spend about one week in Florence per month and the rest of my time in a Parisian banlieu with my beau. It has taken me at least a year to adjust to the choices Iíve made. I am happy and grateful, but there are a few adjustments Iíd still like to make.

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Dates are important to me. I remember the dates of everything that is significant to me: births, deaths, and my arrival in Florence (both times). Today is Florenceís saintís day, San Giovanni Battista (John the Baptist). Itís the one day I am usually in Florence because I get to celebrate my beloved city.

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Itís the beginning of summer and I woke up to the sound of rain hitting the window and the thunder growling in the distant. I looked at my phone and saw that it will be rainy all day. In Florence, however, it is hot and sunny. This year, the weather has been odd. Maybe not just in Paris, but also in other parts of Europe When I was in Florence in May, it was a little cooler than it normally is in spring.

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I was supposed to fly back to Florence for a few days yesterday, but instead I decided to stay in Paris. After all the trips Iíve taken these last few months, I felt the need to just relax and enjoy where I am. Even though I love to travel, I do enjoy just staying put.

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This evening as my plane flew over Tuscany with its plots of land divided into puzzle pieces of varying shades of green, I already felt the effect my beloved city has on me. I could almost smell the lush and fertile countryside surrounding Florence with its grass and cypress trees. After the hilly valley was a sea of light-colored buildings with terracotta rooftops. The sky was a little hazy, but the Duomo stood out and dominated the city.

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This morning I woke up a half hour early and instead of being frustrated at not being able to sleep more, I was excited at the thought of being able to visit Florence a bit more before taking off. At 7 am after the street cleaners had come and gone, I walked to the Ponte alle Grazie and was happy to see the sun peeking above the buildings along the Arno. I took a few pictures not just to post on Instagram, but also for me to savor.

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No matter the weather in Florence, I enjoy my beloved city. This spring, the weather seems to be a bit unpredictable. In just a few days, weíve experienced mild temperatures under the bright sun as well as dark clouds spurting out torrential rain, and often in the same day. The changes in the weather have an effect on how the city appears and feels. I enjoy my beloved city regardless of what is going on around it, but I appreciate different aspects depending on the weather.

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Life, of course, is precious. Striving to make each moment count is a daily goal of mine. When Iím in Florence, however, I try to optimize my time even more because nowadays I am here for such a short amount of time. I could spend more time in Florence, but I enjoy my time in France especially with my beau. I aim to use my time wisely when Iím home in Florence and I try not to waste it doing anything I donít feel like doing. I have become quite Florentine in that if something that non mi va (Iím not keen on), I donít push myself to do it.

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When I woke up this morning, I felt a twinge of excitement bubble up inside of me as I listened to the water flowing softly in the Arno. The moment I opened the windows of my apartment, I admired the warm colors glowing across the fiume (river) and inhaled the scent of my beloved city. I wanted to walk around one of the Florentine giardini (gardens), but already had plans to go to the stadio (stadium) to see the Fiorentina play. The last time I went to the stadio was in January.

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I have only been away for two weeks and yet Florence has dramatically changed in that time. When I left, it was still cold and rainy, the streets were virtually empty, and the city was still in its winter slumber. As my taxi drove me through the centro (center) this evening, I was surprised by the crowds of people, the warm air, the bright sun, and the sweet smell of spring. As soon as I got home, I dropped my bags, and I went out for a walk around my beloved city.

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This morning, like every morning since I returned to Florence, I walked to Vivoli where I have colazione (breakfast). I not only go for the caffŤ (coffee) and paste (pastries), but also for the women who work there. Over the years, we have become quite friendly. Every time I return to Florence, I go there so I can catch up with them while I enjoy a good caffŤ.

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