by Melinda Gallo

Festa della Repubblica

Holidays in Italy are generally my favorite days when it comes to living in centro (downtown). The city wakes up later, fewer cars and motorini (scooters) whiz by in the street, less noise enters from the open windows, and the streets are deserted. When Alessandro and I went out for our run this morning, I certainly noticed the difference between a normal weekday and a holiday like today. It felt like the entire city was still asleep or that almost everyone was gone for the day.

Living in Florence :: Festa della Repubblica

By 8 a.m. I was already out the door and on the Ponte Vecchio taking pictures for my new project. I couldn't wait to go back out after we ran over ponte (bridge) this morning because there were only a few people walking on the ponte. All the shops were closed and there was one man reading the newspaper while sitting on the low wall across from the Cellini statue. There wasn't even a security car on the ponte as there normally is early in the morning.

After I took some pictures, I went to Ocafè on via dei Bardi for colazione (breakfast) because it looks so inviting from the outside with its large windows showing off the view of the Arno and the Uffizi on the back side of the bar. I ordered a pasta (pastry) and a spremuta d'arancia (fresh-squeezed orange juice) and carried it to a high table and sat down on a bar stool to avoid paying an additional service charge. I admired the view of the Arno on one side and watched a few people come in and out of the bar for their morning snack on the other side of me while I enjoyed my colazione.

When I walked back to our apartment, Alessandro called to tell me about some festivities that were going on in Piazza Repubblica. I went right back outside and headed for the piazza. On my way, I walked up the narrow street between the Uffizi and Palazzo Vecchio. I could hear a band playing and saw crowds of people standing in front of the Palazzo Vecchio.

I stood amongst the crowd for a few minutes and listened to the marching band play. They forced all the tourists out of the loggia so the band could settle in up there while a ceremony was being held next to the statue of David.

I listened to the beginning of the ceremony and then decided to take a walk around the streets to see what else was going on. Whatever was being held in Piazza Repubblica was gone when I arrived, and all that remained were the low metal fences that cleared out a large area in the piazza and kept the crowds at bay.

I sat at the foot of the Colonna dell'Abbondanza (Abundance Pillar), which is my favorite spot in Florence as well as the center of the city, which is why it's not centered in any way with the piazza. I sat at the base of the colonna and watched all the people walk by. It was interesting to see large groups come by and listen to the cicerone (tour guide) discuss the history of the piazza.

Today's Festa della Repubblica (Italy's national holiday) wasn't really a festa (holiday) for me since I still had work waiting for me on my computer to do. By 11 a.m., I was back at my desk working and glancing out the window to the Arno. I especially enjoyed the lower traffic noise as I kept my windows open to appreciate the cool air.

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