by Melinda Gallo

Experiencing the dawn of a new day

Love is the only reason I can give as to why I stood in the dark to take photos of Florence last week. I dragged myself out of bed before the sun came up, bundled myself up, and rushed outside where it was -3° C. After a few days of clear blue skies, I wanted to capture the beauty of my beloved city as it was just waking up. I had never made an effort to take photos of Florence at sunrise, but the night before that’s all I could think of. Ever since I have been living in Florence, I have come to admire the way the sun enhances the beauty of my beloved city. The weather affects how Florence appears: sometimes the colors are more vibrant and other times less so. My favorite effect of the sun is the reflection of a ponte (bridge) and palazzi (buildings) on the Arno river.

Living in Florence :: Experiencing the dawn of a new day

I quickly walked down the lungarno, past the Ponte alle Grazie, and toward Ponte San Niccolò. Initially I wanted to catch the sunrise from Ponte alle Grazie, but thought that it might be more interesting near the pescaia di San Niccolò (San Niccolò weir). I also wanted to film the pescaia to capture the sights and sound of the Arno as it flowed in the morning.

I stood in one spot along the low brick wall hoping to take a photo of the sun just rising from behind the hills above the Arno. A few joggers ran past me while only a handful of cars and motorini (scooters) drove down the virtually empty street alongside the Arno.

Florence has taught me that patience is not only a virtue; it’s a gift. Being patient has encouraged me to be more present. When I am firmly in the present, I notice more details, admire my surroundings, and appreciate the moment I am living. Instead of becoming frustrated with the wait in the cold, I observed the birds flying around the Arno, I noticed the half moon in the sky just above the torre di San Niccolò (San Niccolò Tower), and I gazed at the sun as it crept up the sky and made its way over the hills. As I watched the sun rise, all the hope inside of me rose with it.

I had thought that my morning excursion to catch the sunrise was just so I could take a few photos along the Arno, but I realized on my walk back home that the gift was celebrating the beginning of a new day in my beloved city. Even though there were a few people around, I felt at one with Florence in that moment along the lungarno waiting for the sun to rise. I carried that intimate feeling with me not only that entire day, but even now one week later. Every time I see the photos of that sunrise, I am able to conjure up my deep connection that I felt with Florence on that day.

I plan on venturing out again to experience more sunrises in Florence. I have enjoyed so many sunsets that I think it is time to balance them out a little bit. It’s wonderful to celebrate the end of the day, but it’s an even greater joy to pay tribute to the beginning of the day too.

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