My morning runs are a special time for me to connect with my beloved city and find more things about it that I appreciate. Yesterday, I ran away from the city center toward Ponte da Verrazzano. What struck me was that after crossing Ponte di San Niccolò, I looked around me and noticed that I could’ve been almost anywhere in Italy. Along the sidewalk I was running on, there was a small giardino (garden) to my right with the Arno below it and six-story apartment buildings on my left with shops on the ground floor. When I crossed the Ponte da Verrazzano to run back home, I felt the same thing. It wasn’t until I crossed Ponte di San Niccolò and had a clear view of the top of the Duomo that I felt I was in Florence.
With the sun shining down on the river, reflecting the buildings across the way, I found myself running faster to see more of my beloved city. Little by little, the city revealed itself to me: the top of the Campanile di Giotto, the backside of Santa Croce, the Palazzo Vecchio, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Cestello in the distance.
When I stopped at Ponte alle Grazie, I was content to be back in the heart of my beloved city. I have always felt that Florence is different beyond the city walls. It’s not the same city to me even though it is a part of the whole. Within the city walls, the centro--as it is appropriately called--is intense, energetic, and charming. Not only because of the monuments, churches, bridges, and museums, but because its energy seems restrained to this area. Every time I leave the centro, that energy seems to dissipate.
Today on my run to the Cascine, I had that same sensation. Once I was in the parco (park), I felt that I could’ve been anywhere. It’s Florence, but not Florence. The Arno was present, but even it seemed different that the Arno I see out my window.
I don’t mind exiting the city walls, but I’m so happy when I return inside of them like falling into a warm embrace. I love the energy of my beloved city, which has become a vital part of my life. No matter where I go and no matter how beautiful a place may be, nothing can ever compare to how I feel when I am home in Florence. I feel recharged and revitalized. Florence continually encourages me to open my heart and be the person I was born to be. Maybe in some ways, I am desiring to be more like Florence: emotional, passionate, independent, creative, and invincible. My beloved city is not just my home, but also a source of inspiration and encouragement.
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