by Melinda Gallo

Sunrise stroll along the Arno

When the church bells rang five times this morning, I was surprised that I was fully awake. I looked out the window and saw that it was already light outside. The sun hadnít risen high enough yet for the ponte (bridge) to cast its long shadow on the Arno so I thought that I would finally go outside to take some photos. I had wanted to get up early to take photos of my beloved city and never woke up early enough. Even if I didnít plan on it, it was actually the best thing I could do on a Sunday morning.

Living in Florence :: Sunrise stroll along the Arno

I quickly got dressed and dashed outside with my iPhone and my macchina fotografica (camera) before 5:30 am. I didnít have time to eat or drink anything because I didnít want to miss the sun as it peeked over the buildings and onto the river.

It was so quiet along the Arno that I could hear the water lapping up against the banks of the river. I walked to the Ponte alle Grazie where a group of American girls were sitting on the sidewalk huddled together under a thin blanket. I assumed they wanted to watch the sunrise because their backs were facing the Ponte Vecchio.

I had never gone walking around Florence so early in the morning in the summer before and it was amazing: the air was cool, the light was a warm yellow, the city smelled clean almost as if it had rained, and only a handful of people were outside walking around. A few people were already working, however, like the street cleaners, garbage men, and a couple of taxis.

I walked up one side of the Arno and down the other side, from Ponte alle Grazie to Ponte Vespucci and back to Ponte Vecchio. I veered off course to Santo Spirito, but the sun was still behind the church. I was almost alone in the piazza except for the one guy sleeping in front of one of the church doors and another guy was curled up on a cement bench in the piazza with his bike attached to him.
Living in Florence, Italy :: Sunrise stroll along the Arno
I walked across Ponte Santa Trinita and down the Arno to Ponte Vecchio so I could take a couple of photos. Only one couple and a security guard were on the ponte (bridge). Afterwards, I strolled down a virtually empty via Calzaiuoli (which I have never seen before) toward the Duomo. It was probably about 7am when I reached the Duomo and there were a few runners and photographers making their way around the Duomo.

I looked for a cafť to get a coffee, but they were all closed. Oddly enough, I did see a tabaccheria (tobacco shop) and two gelaterie (ice cream shops) that were open. I walked to Santa Croce, but even my cafť wasnít opening until 9am. I walked back to Piazza della Signoria and hung around there so I could get a coffee at Rivoire, which looked like they would be opening at 8am.

After standing at the bar to enjoy my cappuccino, I headed home. I made one last loop back to the Arno and as I walked past the Uffizi, people were already entering it. A group of tourists with stickers on their shirts walked past me along the Arno as they were heading toward the Ponte Vecchio.

It wasnít until I sat down at my computer to download the photos I took with my macchina fotografica that I realized how tired I was. My fatigue set in so quickly that I had to take a short nap before I could get on with my day.

Regardless of how exhausting my morning stroll was this morning, I do hope to get up to watch the sunrise again. Although next time, I hope itís in the winter when the sunrise is a little later and the sun isnít so far north because Iíd love to see the sunrise on the Arno like I did back in February.

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