by Melinda Gallo

August has arrived

The beginning of August is the beginning of the holiday season for most. For the last couple of months, everyone that I met up with has asked me the same question, "Dove vai per le ferie? Where are you going on vacation?" My response was always the same: "Rimango a Firenze. I'm staying in Florence." I never had to explain my decision to anyone. Anyone who lives in Florence knows what a dream the city is in August: less traffic and quieter streets. There are, of course, a few disadvantages like, more tourists, closed shops and restaurants, and many friends and acquaintances are away.

Today when I walked out to via dei Neri, I couldn't help but notice that many of the shops were closed. Signs taped onto the window displayed the dates so at least we'd know when they'd be back. I was disappointed to find out that both of the ortolani (green grocers) were away for vacation. I knew my ortolano was going away, but I didn't know that they both would be absent at the same time.

I go to my ortolano at least three or four times a week to pick out my fresh frutta e verdura (fruit and vegetables). Now, I have to either walk to via dei Cerchi, behind via Calzaiuoli, to one of the more expensive ortolani or ride my bicicletta (bicycle) to the mercato (market).

The beginning of August shows the slowing down of the city for summer. There are still many shops open, but within the next two weeks, the peak of the summer will arrive, ferragosto (mid-August holiday), and everything will shut down. For one full day, the entire city takes a break. Usually only a few restaurants and gelaterie (ice cream shops) will be open in the centro storico (historical downtown area).

Some people find it inconvenient that the city closes for a day, but I actually enjoy it. It's a day when I too get to ponder the year that has past and think about the rest of the year to come. It's a day when I can enjoy the quiet streets and walk around town in an almost dream state.

For now, I'm enjoying the quiet month of August in my beloved city. And I feel fortunate that many of my good friends are still here so we can meet up and enjoy our time in the city together. It is a luxury to have the city to ourselves.

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