by Melinda Gallo

One last look

Tomorrow I take off for California for a couple of weeks. Iíve been a little sad to leave my city lately, but I am happy to see many people I havenít seen in a long time. The timing around my viaggio (trip) is to surprise my niece for her 11th birthday. I havenít seen her since Alessandro and I were out in California in October 2007. The saddest part about my trip is that my marito (husband) is staying behind in Florence. I love it when he comes with me because heís my favorite piece of the city that I love.

Today I walked sporadically around the city just going to places that I felt like seeing before I left. I did want to go to Piazzale Michelangiolo, but didnít have time. I also had a few pensierini (small gifts) to buy for friends and family, so I have been a bit rushed for the past few days. The one thing I did plan to visit was the Orsanmichele chiesa (church). Itís not only my favorite place in the entire city, but itís also the most special place to me.

I walked inside the dark chiesa and lit a couple of candele (candles). I sat down in front of the statue of the Madonna col bambino to pause a moment to convene with my beloved city. I am usually quite sad about leaving Florence so it was good for me to do something that makes me happy before taking off.

I pulled out a quaderno (notebook) to write down my thoughts as I usually do when I find myself in such a quiet place. While I was writing, a group of students entered the chiesa. They were led by a tour guide who explained a few details of the chiesa. I didnít listen much to what the tour guide was saying, but noticed how bored many of the students were.

I felt a little sad that they were being led around town, fed information, and yet didnít have much time to just sit quietly inside the chiesa. I believe the history of a monument and the details are interesting to know, but there is no replacement to how a person feels somewhere. I know that my experience in every monument is indescribable, and unique each time I go.

Within only a few minutes, they were already out the door and on to another part of the city. I remained sitting inside and continued writing. I always feel pampered and safe inside Orsanmichele. No matter what might have been worrying me or stressing me out, somehow the chiesa calms me down.

When I got back outside, I walked around town and just tried to take in some of what I love about the city: the buildings, the piazze, the monuments, and the streets. The beauty of the city is overwhelming at times, but not only are the large and well-known monuments impressive, but so are signs hung above shops, the narrow streets with even narrower sidewalks, and every angle of each piazza. Love is in the details.

I know Iíll miss Florence, and especially my marito, but I have much to do while Iím away and so many people I am looking forward to seeing. I will take my computer with me not only for work but also for all the foto (photos) of the city that I have on it that I can look at any time I want. It doesnít take much for me to connect with my city. I can enjoy my trip and come back in a couple of weeks, refreshed, enlivened, and joyful to experience Florence again.

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