by Melinda Gallo

Celebrating 4th of July early

My ex-Italian instructor, Gianluca, invited Dave and I to go to Villa Demidoff (which is a park in Pratolino outside of Florence) to celebrate the 4th of July today. Supposedly it was an invitation-only event where many Americans living in Tuscany (and mostly Florence) would be gathered together to celebrate.

We drove through many winding country roads above Florence. At certain spots we could see the entire city and the main monuments as if we were just hanging above on a cloud. The farther we drove into the countryside, the cooler it got. It was a relief from the Florentine heat that doesn't seem to lift much these days.

After parking the car, we walked along a small road and then finally arrived at a large park where the Villa is located. The most magnificent thing I'd ever seen (and yes, I wish I had brought my camera) was the monumental fountain of the Colosso dell’Appennino (statue of the "Appennines"). And it was even more spetacular at night with the lights shining on it.

On the small road on the grounds of Villa Demidoff, we walked past the outdoor cinema, called "Sotto le stelle" (Under the stars). I thought it was a great idea to go outside, sit in chairs with tables and watch a movie outside in the Summer. I'd be worried about the mosquitoes, but I always spray myself with Autan (which is a mosquito repellent) when I go outside at night.

Most of the people seemed to be Italian. The staff was made up of mostly American students and employees from the American Embassy. We enjoyed barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs as well as gelato (ice cream) from Vivoli, which is one of the most famous gelaterie (ice cream shops) in Florence.

We walked around, talked, and enjoyed the sounds of live bands and children laughing and playing. It was a great way to spend an evening.

We walked down the same road to go back to the car in the dark. We saw little sparks of light randomly appearing and disappearing. We didn't have fireworks, but we had fireflies!

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