by Melinda Gallo

A quiet Ferragosto

This city this morning was incredibly quiet. I heard only one car go by before I got out of bed. Alessandro and I ran along the Arno and then a small stretch in San Niccolò. We saw very few cars driving around, and hardly anyone was walking in the streets either. I crossed Ponte Vecchio alone while he ran on to the next ponte (bridge). This time I wasn't alone, the tourists were enjoying the city and snapping photos.

Today was a big day for tourists. I saw hordes of people walk along the Arno under my window. Some were in large groups, some were carrying umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun, and others were holding maps of the city.

Everything on via dei Neri was closed except for the gelateria (ice cream shop) and a few ristoranti (restaurants). Most of the shops were either closed last week and this week or this week and next week. This year the ferragosto (mid-August holiday) was even in the middle of the week, Wednesday. So, some people who didn't take off for the week did a ponte (to take off the two days before or the two days after to have a long weekend).

For me, there was no holiday. No one else seems to celebrate ferragosto like the Italians.

Alessandro and I took a walk around town after dinner and the streets were crowded. I saw quite a few people haggling with the Senegalese men (and a few women now) who sell fake Gucci and Prada bags on the street while others were just outside walking, eating gelato (ice cream), and enjoying the cool summer evening.

Tomorrow many shops will be open again. Today, everything was eerily quiet. I didn't hear that many cars while I was working with my windows open all day. I like to be in Florence for ferragosto because the city seems to take a day off and relax. I just wish I could've done the same.

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