by Melinda Gallo

Greeted by the rain on a Sunday morning

This morning I woke up to the church bells chiming and the rain falling on the roof above my head. After I got out of bed, I stood at the window with my legs leaning against the radiator as it was warming up. The sky was a blanket of grey with the outlines of a few clouds floating slowly past while rain was falling straight down in hazy lines. The smoke billowing out of the chimney of a palazzo (building) across the Arno, which is now a dull green, caught my eye. The streets below were virtually empty with a few people walking by holding umbrellas above their heads. In Italian, it's the only day we wish for people to enjoy: "Buona Domenica (Have a good Sunday)," my friends and I say to each other. Some people make the same wish about weekends, but more do so about Sundays. When I wake up to a quiet Sunday like today, I realize that there is so much to enjoy.

Today, as with all Sundays, the street cleaners and garbage collectors will not be coming by and the shopkeepers won't be opening up their shops in the area around our apartment. Because of the rain, there are fewer people driving to the piazza below our place to park their cars and go to chiesa (church) or to visit the city. Florence is open to everyone all day, and people are free to drive in and out as they please. The police don't even come by and give multe (tickets) to illegally parked cars. Sunday is a day of rest for almost everyone.

I rarely go downtown on Sundays because the streets are crowded with people wandering around. A few shops are open, but people don't seem to mind that most of them are closed. Mostly people stroll through the streets viewing the buildings and chiese and peek into well-lit vetrine (shop windows) every once in a while. It is a day that people slow down and enjoy.

The streets are even more crowded in the afternoons, but I haven't been out on a Sunday afternoon in months, if not years. I went to the Duomo for two Sundays in a row, but always before lunch. After having lunch on Sundays, even more families and couples come downtown to meander up and down the streets of the city.

While I was looking out the window this morning, I realized how much I truly love Florence. I love my city when it is sunny and I love it when it is raining. I love my city in the morning just as much as in the evening. I appreciate its beauty, enjoy discovering its secrets, and accept its flaws. Florence is more than a city for me; it is where I feel loved and fully embraced.

I have wondered why I feel this way and how it even happened. Why do I love this city so much? Didn't I love any of the others I've lived in? I know that I enjoyed my time everywhere I have lived, but Florence has nestled itself in my heart more than any other.

I don't have a list of requirements that make me love a city or a set of expectations that need to be filled for me to love it. I just feel that I was meant to live in Florence as if we are a perfect match.

I have tried many times to understand my feelings, but I have come to realize that words and thoughts could never suffice when I am pondering love. Love is what I feel deep inside my heart and soul. Love cannot be explained, examined or understood; it is to be experienced, enjoyed, honored, and appreciated.

I am blessed to have found a place that I love and where I feel so loved. I hope that everyone can experience this same pleasure as I believe that it is truly a gift. I am fortunate to have found Florence and that it continues to give me so much love and joy. I will forever be grateful to my beloved city. Grazie Firenze...ti amo!

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