by Melinda Gallo

I practically picked Venice Beach out of a hat when I was pondering where to stay in Southern California. On one hand, I wanted to visit part of my family and my friends in the Los Angeles area, but I had a great desire to be by the water and not have to drive a car for the first week of my trip. I asked a few people about the area, but most thought I should choose Santa Monica instead because for them Venice Beach was crazy and a bit weird. Fortunately, they were unable to persuade me to change my mind. I knew virtually nothing about Venice Beach and was eager to discover it for myself.

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No matter how much I love my life in Florence (and also Paris), I truly feel the need to return to my home state at least once a year. Oddly enough itís not where I grew up that draws me as much as the place where I was born, which for me is Los Angeles. I just feel a pull to return to where I took my first breath. Even though I lived here for only a year or two, and obviously donít remember it, I still feel a strong pull to return at least once a year.

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Living in Florence :: Admiring the May flowers

I was excited yesterday morning to go to the Giardino dellíIris. Itís one of my favorite traditions that my beloved city has to offer. Last year, unfortunately, I missed out on it. To begin the lovely morning, we first had a caffŤ at Giacosa. Afterwards, we zigzagged our way through the centro (historical center of town), across the Ponte alle Grazie, and past San NiccolÚ to reach the stairs that lead up to Piazzale Michelangiolo.

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Ever since I arrived in Florence, Iíve never wanted to leave it. I generally donít even like going beyond the city limits (and sometimes not even the city walls). However, for the past year, Iíve been going to Paris to work for about two weeks a month. What is interesting is that I used to hold on tightly to Florence as I would a new lover. I almost feared that by not being here, I would lose my connection with my beloved city. But, I have learned over time that I can leave Florence and come back to it easily. I donít like being separated from Florence, but I now know that enjoying my time in another place does not take away from my enjoying my life in Florence.

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