by Melinda Gallo

People over places

I wish I could've seen Florence through my niece's six-year-old eyes. She has travelled quite a bit, going to different states like Hawaii, Florida, and Utah. But, this was her first visit to Europe. And Florence as her first European city to visit.

We walked around Florence quite a bit and went to Monterosso (in Le Cinque Terre) together. In Florence, it was easy for me to not notice the monuments and buildings all over since I see them all the time.

When we were in Monterosso, it was different. I did see the clear and crisp blue-green water of the Mediterranean that crashed against the sand, the steep hills standing behind us, and the sea that seemed to end at the horizon with no boat in sight. But, I was busy gathering sea glass with my niece and her mother. The rest seemed to pale in comparison.

I glimpsed often at the water and yet never touched it, but I wasn't interested in sitting on the beach and listening to my thoughts. I wanted to spend as much time as I could with my niece. I wanted to see her smile, hear her laugh, and feel her excitement when we found a blue or clear piece of sea glass. We found lots of green pieces, but weren't quite as excited with those. We must have searched for almost an hour, but it was the best hour I had on a beach.

Dave and I live only a few hours away from Le Cinque Terre. It's a place that we will certainly visit again some day. I have come to realize that people are more important than places and that the time I was able to spend with my niece and her family was much more important and significant to me than any beautiful coast line anywhere in the world.

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