by Melinda Gallo

Seeking shade and avoiding crowds

For those of us who live in Florence and walk around the centro (downtown area), must constantly adjust our daily routines. I didn't know that Florence welcomes over 12 million visitors each year, but at some times during the year it is much more crowded than others. The crowds in the peak periods can be overwhelming and the temperatures right now are not only high--in the 30's Celsius (90's Fahrenheit)--but when the sun hits my skin, it can be unbearable.

Whenever I see a mass of people in the streets navigating their way through the centro, I generally search out the surrounding small streets to get around them. The large crowds and tour groups tend to not walk on the sidewalks and can be difficult to get around for those of us who walk in the opposite direction. I don't like confrontation, so I'd rather just pick a quieter, albeit longer, route to get to my destination.

Ever since the hot weather has arrived, I've now had to change which part of the street I walk on and sometimes even change streets altogether. I am constantly seeking shade of any kind. Any shadow that hits the street below I'll walk under even if I have to cross the street or extend my trip by taking another route.

When I see the other tourists walking in the middle of the street with the sun beating down on them, I feel bad for them. Some of them now walk around with umbrellas to protect themselves. I'd do it too if I were forced to walk in the sun all day to visit Florence.

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