by Melinda Gallo

Living overseas away from family and long-term friends has opened me to meeting new people and to creating close bonds with others. Itís almost as if my friends here in Florence replace my family; the relationships I have are meaningful for me and hopefully for them too. I often meet people who read my blog and contact me. A few of my friends think Iím crazy because they donít understand why I would meet people who are just visiting my beloved city, but I see it as an opportunity to connect with someone new and to share our lives.

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Last night Alessandro, one of my girlfriends, and I went to the dinner for The Florentineís fifth anniversary. I remember attending their fourth anniversary last year as one of their new writers. Itís hard to believe that an entire year has already passed since then.

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Living in Florence :: Una partita amichevole

When I go to the stadio (stadio) to see the Fiorentina play, I am in the Curva Fiesole, where the diehard fans are. I never bring my macchina fotografica (camera) with me because itís not really allowed and our seats are behind the goal, quite far from the campo (pitch). Normally when I go to a partita (match), I am usually too busy clapping, singing and cheering to take any foto (photos) anyway.

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Living in Florence :: My first photo safari

A professional American photographer, Jenn, emailed me through my blog to ask about getting together for a photo safari. I was excited about the idea even though I rarely do such things with other people. In a sense, Iím a bit of a loner. I like to walk around by myself and let my curiosity and joy lead me through the streets. I like getting drawn to different things and capturing them in a foto (photo). Sometimes beauty jumps out and grabs me and I try to seize the moment to keep a memory of it for me.

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Living in Florence :: Proud of my beloved city

Right before the start of yesterdayís partita (game), I was moved to tears. The city of Florence honored Stefano Borgonovo, a calciatore (soccer player) who played for the Fiorentina. Borgonovo was diagnosed with Lou Gehrigís disease only a couple of years ago and since then the Florentines continue to hold him in their hearts.

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When I turned in my latest ďExpats in FlorenceĒ article, I realized that I had completed 20 of them. I was quite amazed because I hadnít realized that Iíd interviewed that many people and wrote about their coming to Florence. Being an expat in Florence, I am interested to find out how other people came here. Iíve been impressed by each person who has been courageous to move to another country where he/she successfully created an entirely new life.

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Today for the second time I went to an AILO meeting. A friend of mine had joined last year and invited me to a meeting last month. Iím not generally one who likes to join groups, but after learning more about the group and meeting some of the ladies, I decided to apply to become a member. Last week I received an email that I was accepted.

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Living in Florence :: A rainy Pasquetta

Today is lunedž dellíAngelo (Easter Monday) or Pasquetta, which is a holiday in Italy. Many of the shops on via dei Neri were closed, but the streets were just as busy as yesterday. It was an odd weekend with some of the musei (museums) being closed on Sunday, and others were closed today. It started to rain yesterday afternoon while I was having Easter lunch with my suoceri (in-laws). The rain persisted throughout the evening and continued for most of today. Iím happy that I had a chance to go out on Sunday morning to take some foto (photos) because I couldn't take any today.

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Living in Florence :: A quiet Easter Sunday

This year I didnít feel like going to the centro (downtown area) for the scoppio del carro (explosion of the cart) in front of the Duomo. I had gone two years ago and just wanted a quieter morning for myself. This morning, I enjoyed listening to the sound of the church bells ringing throughout the city. Eve though the day was a little grey, joy seemed to be all around. I saw so many people smiling and laughing together as they walked along the Arno toward the Ponte Vecchio. Because I havenít been outside much to just enjoy my beloved city, I just felt a desire to walk around by myself to a different and quieter part of the city.

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Living in Florence :: Sharing my city

Today I met up with a couple who hadnít been to Florence before. I was excited our meeting because the husband has been complimentary about the photos of Florence that I publish on my blog. We met in Piazza della Signoria and had drinks on the terrace of a caffŤ. The view was as breathtaking as ever with the Palazzo Vecchio dominating the piazza. I admired the loggia with its statues, standing gracefully outside exposed to the elements. There were masses of tourists walking by this morning, holding out maps, taking photos, and enjoying the intermittent sun that shone in the piazza.

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March 25th is a special date in Florence: itís líanno nuovo fiorentino (the Florentine new year), which is the day that Florentines used to celebrate the coming of the new year until 1750. I read about it in a Florence and its festivals flyer at the beginning of the year, and was then reminded in an article in The Florentine. The same date marks the beginning of my relationship with mio marito (my husband), Alessandro three years ago.

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Living in Florence :: One of my favorite views

Sometimes I think I could stand in the same spot every day and take the same exact foto (photo). At different times of the day and during the different seasons, it's always stunning. The attached foto is probably one of my favorite views because of all the elements it captures: the Arno, the reflection of Palazzo Serristori, the small park in Piazza Demidoff and the San Miniato chiesa (church) above. I couldnít resist taking a foto today because the Arno was so still that the reflection of the palazzo was almost perfect.

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Living in Florence :: Always time for a photo

From every angle, Florence is breathtakingly beautiful. The word ďbeautifulĒ certainly doesnít do it justice because the word is overused, and because the cityís charms are much deeper than what is visible. Today on my way home from a couple of appointments, I pulled my macchina fotografica (camera) from my bag and took a foto (picture). I wasnít planning to take any foto today, but had my macchina fotografica on me for an intervista (interview) I had to do. While I was walking down the lungarno (road along the Arno river), I was so taken by the veduta (view) that I felt compelled to take a foto.

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Most people say that if they had more time, theyíd travel to other countries more. But it if I had more time, I would explore my beloved city more. There are still museums that I havenít been to, streets I havenít walked down, churches I havenít entered, monuments I havenít fully appreciated, and areas Iíve only had a taste of.

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I have never been to a degustazione dei vini (wine tasting) in Florence before yesterday. Iíve seen so many enoteche (wine shops) in town when I walk around, but have always felt intimidated to walk in for a degustazione dei vini. Yesterday I went because Iím helping out a friend create a specialized tour in Florence. We had been around town a few times to look at different enoteche. We picked ItalianLoves because another friend of mine opened it up and we liked the fact Lorenzo, a sommelier, works there. At 10:30 am we arrived to begin our degustazione dei vini. We walked into the enoteca and Lorenzo invited us to sit in the back area where they have a bar set up.

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