by Melinda Gallo

Ponte Vecchio as my finish line

For my run this morning, I headed toward Ponte San Niccolò with the sun glaring in front of me. I tried to look out at the Arno, but the cobblestone sidewalk required more of my attention at times. After crossing the ponte (bridge) and heading back toward town, I was able to take in the city monument by monument. First, I saw the Duomo, then the side of Santa Croce, and above to my left was Piazzale Michelangiolo. Then, I let my eyes fall on the torre (tower) of the Palazzo Vecchio and the Ponte Vecchio.

I initially planned on stopping at the Ponte alle Grazie so I could stretch out at the little giardino (garden) on the left. However, when I saw that there weren’t many people on the Ponte Vecchio, I decided to keep going. As soon as I turned right onto the Ponte Vecchio, I sprinted to the other end. Once I reached the lungarno where a small city bus passed in front of me, I turned around and walked to the middle of the Ponte Vecchio.

After looking out at the jade-colored water and then up at the clouds on the horizon to the east, I switched sides to look out at the Ponte Santa Trinita. I took in a deep breath and greeted my beloved city.

I then stood against the low cement wall covered in graffiti and watched the people walking by in both directions across the Ponte Vecchio. One woman wearing a pink terrycloth robe was sitting on the sidewalk asking for money from the passers-by. A small group of tourists, led by a guy with a water bottle in one hand and a map of the city flailing in the other, marched past me. In a brightly lit jewelry shop across from me, a young man was setting up the display of gold necklaces. I could tell the difference between the tourists and the lone locals, who seemed to be more determined in their walk across Ponte Vecchio.

I turned back toward Ponte Santa Trinita and stared into the Arno. The quiet water glistened while a man in a canoe was rowing toward the ponte. I caught myself wondering how I could ever live anywhere else. It’s not just the monuments and the artwork that make Florence special; it’s the vibrant pulse that beats day in and day out.

I feel so lucky to be able to stretch out on the Ponte Vecchio after a run. The city not only inspires me, but also revitalizes me every time I take her in.

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