by Melinda Gallo

Pausing to savor the moment

I was almost not going to go running during my stay in Florence because I had forgotten my iPod in France. At first, I was upset with myself because I hate forgetting things. Then, I realized that I could take my iPhone with me, which has all my music on it. I had only run with my iPhone on vacation, but I didnít realize how this change would end up being so rewarding.

Living in Florence :: Pausing to savor the moment

After running along the Arno until almost Ponte San NiccolÚ, I turned down via delle Fornacce to reach the Viale Michelangiolo. With my headphones on, I am insulated in my own little bubble. I see the cars going up and down the viale (large avenue) beside me, but I donít focus on them. I focus more on my immediate surroundings: the uneven stone sidewalk, the leaves falling at my feet, the trees on both sides of me, and the brief glimpse of the valley to the east.

I have landmarks on the viale that I use to estimate how far away I am from the Piazzale Michelangiolo. When I get to the campeggio (campground), I know that I have almost arrived at the piazzale and I can sprint the rest of the way. I stop when I reach the piazzale and breathe in my beloved city while the sun kisses her gently. Itís rather quiet in the mornings when the tourists havenít yet arrived. Today, it was spectacular because I could count the number of people up there with two hands.

I stretched out along the low wall and admired my beloved city below. I took it all in: the rooftops, the churches, the bridges, the Arno, the Ponte Vecchio, the various monuments, and Fiesole in the background. The view of Florence from above is truly special and one that I enjoy admiring at any time of the day or night.

After I finished stretching out, I headed down the stairs to reach San NiccolÚ. I was walking briskly because I needed to get home to begin my work. Instead of going straight down, I walked into the Giardino delle Rose when I saw the gates were open. I hadnít been in a long time and wanted to enjoy it while it was empty. I walked through it and admired the gardens at a slower pace. I also visited them the other day after my run, but only had time to take a photo.

When I returned home, I was still thinking about my run. I had initially thought that the view from Piazzale Michelagiolo was my reward, but actually it was my cityís nudge to not rush home and walk through the giardino (garden). Pleasures like these are ours to cherish if we choose to indulge in them. Florence is always teaching me to breathe in the moment and savor it. Today, I finally listened and was rewarded not only by beautiful sights, but also by the peace that settled into my heart.

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