by Melinda Gallo

Up to Piazzale Michelangiolo and back

On this cool summer morning, I am excited to go out for a run. Sometimes I'm not as motivated as I'd like to be, but when I know I'm going to be running up to the Piazzale Michelangiolo, I feel almost giddy. I love how I can see David from Ponte alle Grazie and then make my way up the winding viale (tree-lined avenue) to finally see him looking out over the city.

I run along the lungarno (street that runs along the Arno) and turn right down a one-way street, via delle Fornace, as a short cut to get to the viale. As soon as I turn on the viale, I know that the incline is going to be a little steep. Cars creep along the viale down the hill to get into town. I find it so peaceful: no one else is walking up or down the viale.

I know the turns in the viale now and can gauge the distance to the top a little bit. There's a small hospital on the left, a couple of hotels on the right, a sports center, tennis courts, and a campeggio (camp site). I love peeking out between the trees to see parts of the city below.

When I pass the Villa la Vedetta hotel, I take in a deep breath because I know it's only a couple of minutes before I get to take in my entire city from the piazzale (large piazza). The second I see David I smile. I run around the entire piazzale along the wide sidewalk and greet many of my favorite monuments: the Duomo, Santa Croce, and Palazzo Vecchio. I look out at Arno and the Ponte Vecchio because they truly are stunning from the piazzale.

I run around the tourists who are taking photos with Florence as the backdrop. The sun is shining brightly and I feel the heat rising from the pavement. At the end of the piazzale, I run through the parking lot and back down the hill. This time I am able to go much faster as the road slopes down. The air is cooler along the path because of the large trees that hover above and offer shade.

I enjoy the run back down and find that it goes by almost too quickly. Once I reach the stoplight, I turn left to go down via dei Bastioni and head toward the Porta San Niccolò.

This narrow street with the countryside on the left and large stone walls and villas on the right is one of my favorite streets in San Niccolò. Cars whiz by me, but I still find it quite serene. I always imagine the houses here look out onto the river from one side and the countryside on the other, which to me would be a dream.

I weave through a few streets in San Niccolò and make my way back to the lungarno. The noise of the city seems louder than when I left earlier this morning. I stop running and walk along the lungarno before going home.

I enjoy running a lot, but enjoy it even more when I can go up to the piazzale to greet my beloved city. Completing the run feels great, but seeing my city is the greatest bonus. All day long I think about the view. I sometimes wish I could take a picture each time, but other times I truly love trying to remember the different colors and changes that I can see from above.

I can't wait to go back out for another run to the piazzale this week. I try to go up a couple of times a week to change up my routine. Even if I sometimes don't feel I have the energy to run up to the piazzale, I try anyway. I know that when I get to the top and run in front of David as he looks out onto my beloved city, I feel a surge of joy because I know just how fortunate I am each time I reach the piazzale.

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