by Melinda Gallo

Noticing the changes along my running route

On my run the other day, a thick fog blanketed the city and when I ran over Ponte Vecchio, I couldn't even see the top of the Duomo. The city seemed different to me, but it forced me to look at the buildings that were closer to me instead of what was out in the distance. I couldn't see the hills around the city or even Piazzale Michelangiolo. Today, however, everything was different: the sun was shining brightly above the hills to the east and I could see all around me and even hills and monuments in the distance.

Now that I sometimes run a little later in the morning, the city is already awake by the time I get outside. When I started my run in our piazza, vigili (policemen) were ticketing cars in the parking lot while a tow truck was hoisting a car to take it away.

I ran along the lungarno (the street that is alongside the Arno) toward Ponte di San Niccolò. I usually have to be a little careful when running on the sidewalk because it's made of different sized stones cemented together. Some are loose while others are just uneven, and I usually try to keep an eye on them as I run.

Today I noticed that there were so many people coming toward me that I ran out in the street between the parked cars and those driving by. I liked it better because I could look around some more and not just look at the ground under my feet. After the light in front of the caserma (barracks) for the carabinieri (military policemen) is where many tour buses stop to let off tourists for their day trip into Florence. On the corner is an open market where ethnic products are sold. At this time in the day, the stands are covered and no one is usually working yet.

I ran across the Ponte di San Niccolò and crossed paths with a couple of biciclette (bicycles). A couple was walking their children across the ponte (bridge) and stopped at the light. As I turned the corner, the little boy glanced back at me. On this side of the Arno, there is a pista ciclabile (bike path) in both directions. I run in the pedestrian lane and only go over the line of the pista ciclabile when other people are walking in the same direction. A garbage truck stopped on the lungarno to pick up the trash after I went past the Ponte alle Grazie.

I ran toward the Ponte Vecchio and was looking forward to crossing it. It's the one moment of the day when I look at the Duomo in the distance and the Arno flowing under my feet that I feel like the city is all mine.

As I turned the corner and began running across the Ponte Vecchio, I saw large terracotta vasi (pots) with pink flowers in them. They couldn't have been more than a couple of feet between each one. They were certainly very pretty to see, and made me think of spring. But I know that the real reason they are there is to prevent the illegal vendors from setting up shop on the ponte.

I ran along the Arno under the Corridoio Vasariano (Vasari Corridor). I sometimes turn left after the Museo di Storia della Scienza (Museum of the History of Science), but today I kept going along the lungarno. When I returned to my piazza, the vigili were still there writing tickets to illegally parked cars.

From beginning to end, I enjoyed my run in the city to see what is going on and what has changed in the last couple of days. The city is always changing even though sometimes it seems like it's always the same.

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