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I walked out of the 16th-century palazzo and back into Piazza Santo Spirito. A few trucks lingered from the pop-up market that closes and is carried away by the afternoon. Some packed shoes back into boxes, another folded hangers of clothes back into their containers. The ground hadn’t even dried from the last rain shower. A mix of green and yellow leaves from the trees (one of the only piazzas in Florence with big beautiful greenery) smothered the cobblestones and piled up on the tiers of the fountain, lonely today in the cold – not like in the summer when the edges are the coolest hangout in more ways than one. I tried to decide if I wanted to stop and get a warm cappuccino across the way, but decided against it. Today is more for a tea, at home, in pajamas, with my dog.

As I headed down the sidewalk, shouting erupted over my right shoulder.

“Ehi! EMILIO! Daiii EMILIO!”

I looked over to see a man in a bright orange coveralls and gloves, turned toward the other side of the piazza, a bouquet of flowers in one hand and a garbage bag in the other, dramatically motioning to his coworker as he chuckled with an enormous grin on his face. He tried again to pretend to court his friend with the bouquet. “They’re for you!” He insisted, he wiggled the white dahlias.

Emilio smirked from across the way, “knock it off, he called back as he turned back to the next trash bin. I laughed out loud.

“But they’re just throwing them away!” The first man replied, looking down into the bag and forgetting his joke while pulling out another bouquet, less squished than the other. “It’s all flowers, he continued, more to himself, seemingly very upset they (people from the market) had thrown away so much. He looked up again and noticed I had been watching this entire exchange as I was passing by, and the grin came back to his face as he threw his arm straight out and pointed the flowers toward me. “Ah! Do you want some? Come here comeherecomehere! They only bent the stems!”

And that is how I ended up walking along the Arno today cradling a bouquet as I watched the furious water rush through the city. It was so much lower than yesterday, thankfully, but it was still roaring. I plucked one of my trash flowers from the bunch and threw it down over the wall and into the torrent and watched as it swirled in the eddies and danced on the rapids A white flag, a peace offering, to the angry water. It swallowed it up under the current.

 

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