by Melinda Gallo

To start off my first full day in Paris, I went to the café on the corner right above the métro to have colazione (breakfast). Because none of the local supermarkets were open, I didn’t have anything to eat at home. Once inside the café, I sat down at a table near the tall windows. While I was waiting for my café and croissant to arrive, I realized that there were many differences between Vivoli, where I went yesterday, and the Parisian café I was in this morning.

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Living in Florence :: Back to Paris

This morning I walked to Vivoli for a cappuccino and pasta (pastry). I hadn’t been there to have colazione (breakfast) in a long time, so it was a wonderful treat for me today. The skies were grey and it was raining lightly, but I still wanted to stroll the streets. I was leaving for Paris at lunchtime and wanted to walk around my beloved city before I left. I love traveling, but I always get a little sad when I have to leave Florence, my marito (husband), my friends, and my life.

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Since I’ve been back in Florence, I’ve been wondering what role the city plays in my happiness. Some people tell me that I must be happy because I live in such a magnificent, charming, and rich city while others I’ve met blame the city for their not being happy. I have finally realized that it’s not the city’s job (nor anyone else’s job for that matter) to make me happy. Happiness comes from the inside. Everything external to me (my city, family, friends, job, writing, etc.) can affect me, but they do not dictate my happiness.

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Living in Florence :: Impossible to remain stagnant

Today I walked through Piazza Santissima Annunziata and stood for a few minutes in the piazza. I looked at my old building and was surprised to realize that it’s been four years since I moved out of it. My life changed quickly that year, and even though I had to make difficult decisions, they were certainly the right ones for me. I have come to realize that Florence isn’t a city where I can be stagnant. And I have a feeling the same is true for others who come to live here as well.

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The place I live in is important to me--maybe even vital. My stay in Paris reminded me of just how much a place can affect me. Since I moved to Florence, I haven’t lived anywhere else for an extended period of time as a local, like I just did in Paris. My stay there was enlightening: I hadn’t gone back to Paris to live since I left it in 1995. I was able to experience the city again and enjoy it.

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As my plane flew over Tuscany before landing in Florence, the terrain below appeared to be pieced together like a puzzle, fitting together perfectly. I looked out at the area surrounding Florence and was happy to see the terracotta roofs on the low buildings. I loved my stay in Paris even though I saw so little of it, but I did enjoy the energy of the city. Even though I was a little nostalgic leaving Paris, I was suddenly happy to be back in my beloved city.

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Being in Paris is a big change of pace for me. My life in Florence is generally much slower and calmer. It took me a few days to adapt to life here. Besides having to commute to work, having a set time to work each day, speaking French, not seeing the sun until 8am, and, of course, not spending time my marito (husband) and suoceri (in-laws). On the other hand, I am extremely fortunate to have many friends here with whom I have reconnected.

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Living in Florence :: In Paris for work

Before I left Florence on Sunday, I was a little sad. However, I was excited to return to Paris for work for almost two weeks. I hadn’t been to Paris since 2007 and hadn’t lived there since 1995. I was eager to see how Paris had changed and dive into its splendor. When the taxi driver drove me through the city to get to the apartment, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my life here many years ago.

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