by Melinda Gallo

On the day before I leave for Paris, I strolled down my beloved cityís streets in silence. I wanted to kiss every stone, building, monument, and church. All I could see was beauty. I wanted to capture every piece of my beloved city and tuck them in my pocket to take with me. Even though I enjoy my time in Paris, I find it painful to leave Florence each time. My heart breaks a little when I know that I have to be away from my life in my beloved city with my husband and friends.

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After my run this morning, I walked over Ponte alle Grazie where I saw two women taking photos of the Ponte Vecchio. I smiled as I passed them: I was happy that they were appreciating my beloved cityís beauty. I too looked out at the Ponte Vecchio and thought how fortunate I am to be able to admire it every day. Besides feeling in my own element here, I am fortunate to live in a place I love and appreciate so much.

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After having lunch with friends visiting Florence yesterday, I decided to visit the Basilica di San Lorenzo. I hadnít visited the basilica in a long time and felt the desire to do so because we had lunch only a block away. Once I entered the basilica, I slowly walked past the large frescoes and bronze pulpits. I didnít remember the basilica being so grand, and was so happy to have decided on visiting it.

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Today when I walked down a narrow, and less frequented, street near our apartment to go to the mercato (market), my mind began to wander. It happens a lot to me when I am walking alone. I become mesmerized by the rhythm of my footsteps, the stone streets, and the buildings around me. This morning, I found myself thinking about how beautiful Florence is even though itís not perfectly clean or orderly. I would love to see my beloved city be cleaner, but I can easily look past its apparent blemishes to perceive its true and natural beauty.

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Living in Florence :: A stroll along the Arno

With the sun setting in the clear sky this evening, I decided to walk along the Arno from Ponte Santa Trinita toward Ponte alle Grazie. I hadnít strolled along the Arno since I returned to Florence a few days ago. I have only walked through town to buy fruits and vegetables at the ortolano (green grocer) behind via Calzaiuoli because the one close to our apartment is closed. I havenít had that much free time to delight in my beloved city.

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When I arrived back in Florence on Monday night, a large orange moon hung in the sky. As we drove from the airport to the city, I couldnít keep my eyes off of it. Even though I enjoyed my time in Paris these last two weeks, I was happy to be back in my beloved city. The best part of my trip was that a girlfriend came for a few days and then my marito (husband) and another couple came at the end of my trip. I was happy to do a few tourist things with them because normally I do them alone when I have some free time. Itís wonderful to enjoy a city, but to share it is a joy.

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My routine while I have been in Paris these past two weeks has been to run around the Eiffel Tower. The sun rose early each day before I did and by the time was at the Champs de Mars running down the tree-covered allťes, they were well lit. The first week I was in Paris, there were about ten to twenty people running. This last week, there were only a handful of us.

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I arrived in Paris last Sunday after a long hiatus. It had been over 10 weeks since I had been here last. For most of that time, I was in Florence. It has been since January since I was able to spend a good amount of time there. Even though I enjoy my time in Paris, I do miss my beloved city and even more my marito (husband), my suoceri (in-laws), and my amici (friends). Fortunately, I love my job and enjoy spending time in Paris, but I do miss my life because I feel as if the one I have in Florence is incomplete.

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