by Melinda Gallo

Out walking in the rain

Today I was outside walking in the rain and I saw what the tourists do now when it rains. Many of them were huddled under doorways with and without umbrellas. They were looking up at the Santa Croce church, usually with a guide book or map in hand, from the other side of the piazza. It was odd to see them all together as if getting wet would somehow harm them.

The instant it begins to rain in Florence, street vendors from every corner of the piazza run up to all the tourists to try to sell them umbrellas. You'd think we were all going to melt they way they go about it with such urgency. If someone says no, they go to the next person and then the next. They say ombrello (umbrella) in every language possible, show you the umbrella, and tell you the price.

I was reminded of how much I love the way the city smells when it's raining. There's something about the smell of cobblestone getting wet that I really love. It always reminds me of how old the city is and how it has survived all these years. I think about the hundreds of thousands of people who have walked on these same cobblestone roads.

The rain cleanses the city: the street, the air, and the smell. I don't normally notice the smell of the city until it rains. Sometimes, I even try to avoid the city's odors just because at times they are not so pleasant: cigarette smoke, doggie poops, and pollution from motorini (scooters) and macchine (cars).

I realized today how much I love walking in the rain even without an umbrella. I normally hesitate walking outside when it rains, but today, I realized how much I love it. The feel of the rain on my head is so refreshing, especially in the Spring when it's not cold, and the air is so sweet and cool too. And, that I can whizz in and out of crowds without worrying about an umbrella.

The rain this time of year can be fickle though. It can sprinkle for a few minutes or pour for hours. Luckily, when I was outside it was only raining lightly. This evening; however, it poured and was accompanied with thunder and lightning.

I've decided to no longer avoid the rain and only go out when it's sunny. I have finally accepted the rain and cherish it. The sun will be here soon enough and then people will wish for rain to cool them off.

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