by Melinda Gallo

Departing Florence again

I always feel sad the day I leave Florence. I was home for three weeks and in that time I almost forgot all about Paris. I could no longer visualize the streets, the monuments, the bridges, and the Seine. I was happy that during my stay in my beloved city, I got back into running after a long hiatus. Not only did I begin to feel grounded again, but it also gave me time to absorb the beauty of my beloved city--not just visually, but also emotionally.

My marito (husband) drove me down the lungarno, past Ponte Vecchio, up via Maggio, and across Ponte Santa Trinita to take me to the airport. I looked down the river to see the Ponte Vecchio and almost cried. Clouds were scattered in the sky, but the sun still shined through in large rays of light streaming down. I felt a pang of sadness in my heart and suddenly realized how much I’ll miss my beloved city.

My marito talked to me during the drive, but my head was filled with thoughts so loud that I couldn’t hear him. I kept looking out the window, trying to absorb as much of my beloved city as possible: the pastel colors of the buildings, the uneven cobblestone streets, the ponti (bridges), the lampposts lined up along the low brick wall, and the churches on our route like the Cestello and the Chiesa di Ognissanti.

I realized that I was trying to absorb all the sights that I enjoyed along my new running path. Yesterday, I ran up to the Piazzale Michelangiolo so I could scan my beloved city before I left. When I reached the piazzale, I peeked over the railing to the east and saw the irises in the Giardino dell’Iris (Iris Garden). I appreciated observing the irises basking in the sun--each one more beautiful than the next.

On all my flights to and from Paris, I have been fortunate enough to always be seated on the side of the plane that faces my beloved city. At take off today, my eyes were glued out the window so I could catch a quick glimpse of Florence. I kept looking out as we ascended and saw the Arno first, twisting down toward my beloved city. I followed it with my eyes until I saw the ponti and the buildings that make up Florence. I could barely make out the Duomo through the haze, but I saw its cupola (dome). My beloved city eventually disappeared as our plane headed north, but my heart didn't feel as heavy as it was before I took off.

While plane headed along the Italian coast, I began to feel less sad about my departure. I realized these last three weeks that I appreciate Florence’s energy. It’s a unique energy that I enjoy, thrive in, and love to be immersed in. One that constantly calls for movement, change, and growth.

Now that I am in Paris, I am connecting to its energy, which is so very different. Paris is exceptional, but it could never replace Florence for me. I know that during my stay here I will be tapping into Paris’s energy, but will never forget Florence’s mostly because I feel as if I carry it with me wherever I go.

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