by Melinda Gallo

Taking in the city during an early morning walk

On the mornings when I donít go for a run along the Arno, I enjoy taking the time to take a long walk up to Piazzale Michelangiolo. When I woke up this morning, I couldnít wait to go for a walk. The clear blue sky and cool air seemed to be calling to me. I headed out the door and crossed Ponte alle Grazie. I walked toward Piazza Ferrucci, taking a few backroads, and headed up viale Michelangiolo.

Once I turned onto the viale (large street), I was welcomed by wide sidewalks with tall trees overhead that provided me with shade while the sun was gaining its strength. The sidewalk narrows at certain sections of the viale and I could see out onto the valley below toward the mountains to the east. Cars continually made their way up and down the viale alongside me, but I was drawn to the view and all the trees and bushes around me. After I reached Villa La Vedetta, a luxury hotel, there is a campeggio (campground) where campers and tents are scattered in the lush park down the hill.

I smiled when I arrived at the piazzale, not because of the long walk, but because of what I was going to see. Because it was rather early, I walked along the ringhiere (railing) of the piazzale to get a good view of my beloved city. Sometimes if I am late or if itís a weekend, I walk along the street because I donít like contending with the people who convene at the piazzale to enjoy the view and take foto (photos). With the World Cup, there is a huge screen and viewing area, so I couldnít see the city unless I was on the edge of the piazzale.

I stopped to look down at the now desolate giardino dellíiris (iris garden) and then continued walking around the piazzale toward the scale (stairs). There was only one group of tourists at this hour, so I could freely look out at my beloved city and let myself be captivated by the monuments that stick out the most: Santa Croce, the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, and Ponte Vecchio. I also like peering down the Arno at the numerous bridges in a row.

I walked down the scale past the giardino delle rose (rose garden), which is closed this summer even though a few weeks ago, I saw some of the roses through the gate. A small cat was sitting in the middle of the steps and didnít budge when I walked by.

I walked through San NiccolÚ and was greeted with cars and biciclette (bicycles) coming in all directions. I walked along via San NiccolÚ to avoid traffic a bit longer. I walked past the Museo Bardini and crossed the Ponte alle Grazie. If I had more time, I wouldíve walked up to Ponte Vecchio, but it was getting late and I thought the ponte might be crowded.

After I got ready for my day and looked back out at my city from our apartment windows, I felt so wonderful to have enjoyed my city when it was just waking up before the sun heated up the streets and air.

Florence is always charming to me. No matter the weather, I love seeing it as it changes with the elements, light and time of day. I know that all places are similar in that they continually change, but I am grateful that I am now able to notice my cityís beauty and appreciate it.

I think back to when I lived in Paris and how I think my level of appreciation just wasnít as high. I find Paris to be an incredibly beautiful city, but while living there I lost touch with its beauty too quickly. I appreciate it now, but when I was living there, I didnít take the time to relish in its beauty as I do now in Florence.

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