by Melinda Gallo

A longer Saturday run

For the second Saturday in a row, the weather is a bit cooler thanks to sparse clouds and refreshing winds. Fortunately for me, it has allowed me to go for a longer run along the Arno. The weekends are always more pleasant for me anyway because of the lower number of cars and motorini (scooters) whizzing next to me. Early in the morning there are generally fewer people walking, so itís even easier to navigate the cobblestone marciapiede (sidewalk). The cooler weather also allows me to run farther because the heavy, humid air tires me out and makes it difficult for me to run farther.

I enjoy running along the Arno, but it can be too hot since there are no trees providing shade to keep me cool. I get my second wind as soon as I cross over Ponte di San NiccolÚ because the marciapiede is shady thanks to the trees lined up on one side. As I run towards the next ponte (bridge), the city begins to look different. The monuments I hold dear to my heart are getting farther away from me and the scenery is much different. I know that once I cross Ponte da Verrazzano, I will be running toward my beloved city once again so the separation is bearable.

Right before I crossed the street at Ponte di San NiccolÚ, I could only see the roof of Santa Croce. The Duomo remained hidden behind other buildings and trees. Once I was safely on the other side of the ponte and running on the marciapiede, I could see the Duomo. Besides its magnificent shape, I enjoy its orangey-red color, which sets it apart from the muted tones of the surrounding buildings. There is something special and welcoming about the Duomo that always uplifts me when I see it.

The stretch along the Arno next to San NiccolÚ is completely exposed because there are no trees hovering over the marciapiede to provide shade. Iím grateful that the weather is cooler this morning because I didnít become too weary from running in the sun.

After arriving back to Ponte alle Grazie, I decided that I wanted to find a shady spot to stretch out. I suddenly remembered the giardino (garden) along Lungarno Torrigiani that I often look out at from our place. Large trees line one side of the giardino and provide a great amount of shade. As I stretched out on the gravel trail under a lamppost, I looked around at the buildings and wondered what it would be like to live above the giardino next to the chiesa Luterana (Lutheran church).

I looked over the fiume (river) to my side of the city and was surprised how it seemed a little different from this perspective. I looked through the trees to the lungarno lined with parked cars and saw the Palazzo Vecchio and Duomo, hovering over the buildings across the way.

There was a quietness that I hadnít experienced along the fiume before and I enjoyed it. I have stopped many times at the small shady area across from Piazza Poggi, but it wasnít as serene. Even though the fiume is right below the wall where I stretch out, the traffic passing by was noisier and distracting.

I was happy that this morning it was cooler out for a longer run and that I also found a new place to stretch out afterwards. The little giardino is like a small oasis that Iíd love to return to even if I just sit on one of the benches to take in my city, let my mind wander or just write.

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