by Melinda Gallo

Touching down in Florence

When the pilot announced that we were beginning our descent, I peered out the airplane window. After admiring the French countryside divided into well-defined sections of different colors, the snow-capped peaks of the Alps, and then the vast Mediterranean Sea, I was happy to finally see the hilly and vibrant green Tuscan countryside with a few houses sprinkled around it. As the plane fluttered in the sky and then flew through a couple of large, fluffy clouds, I spotted Florence in the distance. My beloved city is easy to recognize because of the sea of light colored buildings with terracotta rooftops and the Duomo standing out in the center.

Living in Florence :: Touching down in Florence

As the plane lowered, I kept my eyes fixed on the Duomo until the Arno’s snakelike path through Florence distracted me for a moment. While we approached the runway, just after flying over the Arno, I tried to look at the Duomo, but at times the airplane’s wing went up too high that I couldn’t see it at all. We flew over the highway and hovered over the runway for a few seconds before touching down. The plane came to a halt rather abruptly and thrust us all forward in our seats.

At the end of the runway, the plane turned around completely and then taxied to the airport terminal. As soon as the plane parked, I took off my seatbelt and pulled out my bag from under the seat in front of me. After thanking the pilot for the flight, I took a deep breath before walking down the stairs to the bus. I could feel my body melt as if it could finally just relax. The words “I am home” floated up to my head.

I hopped in a taxi and told the tassista (taxi driver) my address. We zigzagged through the busy streets around the airport and quickly reached the centro (city center). As soon as we drove past the stazione (train station), I perked up.

We drove down via Panzani, turned right onto via dei Rondinelli. The second we turned down via degli Agli, which turns into via de’ Pecori, I knew I would finally see the Duomo again. It seems almost unbelievable to me that just a few minutes earlier I was admiring it from the sky and now here it was in front of me.

The streets were crowded, but we managed to get through them without bumping into anyone and arrived at my street. The tassista took my suitcase out of the trunk, extended the handle for me, and passed it to me. “Buona serata,” he said while looking at me. “Grazie, altrettanto,” I said with a smile. In that moment, I truly felt at home. I dragged my suitcase to my door and lugged it upstairs. As soon as I walked inside my apartment, I opened all the windows and let the air flow through it. The sweet smell of the city soothed me. It surprises me ever time I return home because it almost feels as if I had never left.

I went back outside to take a walk, stood above the Arno and soaked up my beloved city for a few minutes. Being back home in Florence is like being in my lover’s embrace: there is something magical and even timeless about it. I will never tire of these first few moments I spend back home in Florence. I always look forward to breathe in my beloved city and relax in her embrace.

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