by Melinda Gallo

City noises in the summer

With summer in Florence comes open windows and noisy streets. We have the typical sounds like the bells of the Palazzo Vecchio that ring every hour and the cars and motorini (scooters) that whiz by on the lungarno (street along the Arno) at the end of our piazza. I sometimes hear people speaking below my window in the piazza while I'm working on my computer. At night, their voices carry even more especially when they walk in the narrow street below the side windows of our place.

There are noises that I have become accustomed to: the camion della spazzatura (garbage truck) comes by around 6am to empty the blue cassonnetti (large garbage cans), the glass bottles being thrown one by one into the recycle bin in the piazza by someone from the hotel every morning at around 7am, and at 8:30am one of the shop keepers in the street below our apartment opens the bandone (rolling shutter). I hear the metal roll up in one swift movement and I know that the day has officially begun. My favorite sound is the water in the Arno rushing down the cement embankment especially after a big rain.

Sometimes in the morning, the police come and tow away the cars that are not allowed to be parked in the piazza below. They blow their whistles at drivers who arrive and try to park illegally. I can then hear the guy from the carro attrezzi (tow truck) toss the metal bar underneath the car they are preparing to tow.

More often than not, I hear people talking in the street as they walk by. Sometimes I think they don't realize how loudly they are speaking as I can make out the entire conversation while I'm sitting at my desk. At night is the worst because the city is quiet and the only sound I hear is their voices. The other night around 3am, I had to tell three people to quiet down because they were talking loudly. One guy looked up at me and said, "Scusa (Excuse me)" before leaving the piazza and heading down another street.

Even the noises that could be considered annoying are a part of living in the city along the Arno. I have become accustomed to them and find that they are now a part of my life. I find them all comforting and when I don't hear some of them, I wonder what is going on below and peek outside to check.

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