by Melinda Gallo

A few months ago, a professor from Asbury University in Kentucky emailed me to see if Iíd be open to talking with his journalist students if they were to come to Florence. I was of course flattered, but I wondered what I could talk to them about. David, the professor, told me that I could talk about my blog, my ďExpats in FlorenceĒ column in The Florentine and the expats that Iíve interviewed.

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After walking to San NiccolÚ to meet a friend for caffŤ, I stopped in the giardinetto (small garden) in Piazza Demidoff on my way back. Instead of rushing home, I sat down on one of the wooden benches along the sidewalk to take in the city. While the sun was behind me warming me up, the wind whisked by to cool me down.

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At 7:15am this morning I was outside, warming up for my run along the Arno. I hadnít been out running in months and have been waiting to go out for some time now. I put on my music and away I went. At this early morning hour, there were fewer cars and even fewer people walking about. I love looking around especially at the river and up to San Miniato once I am sure that the cobblestone sidewalk below my feet is stable.

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Living in Florence :: A visit to the Giardino dellíIris

I had a couple of hours before lunch today and decided to take a walk up to Piazzale Michelangiolo so I could visit the Giardino dellíIris. With dark clouds looming overhead, I packed an ombrello (umbrella) in my purse and flung my macchina fotografica (camera) around my neck before heading outside.

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This morning I wanted to go to pick up my new passport at the American Consulate and decided that no matter what, Iíd walk along the Arno the entire way. I sometimes head down the narrow and less frequented streets in order to get to my destination quicker, but today I wanted to be near the water.

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I was invited to speak at a friendís class of college students who have been here for a semester. At first, I was a little hesitant to go because the topic was globalizzazione (globalization). I wasnít sure I had anything to add, but my friend told me I did. She wanted me to talk with her students about my living and working in different countries, especially Florence, as well as what Iíve learned from other expats I know and have interviewed.

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This weekend I took a course that took place in a large hotel alongside the Arno. Each day, I walked along the Arno away from the centro (downtown area) toward Ponte San NiccolÚ. I didnít know how much Iíd miss seeing my beloved city until this morning when I was walking to my friendís apartment on via Ghibellina for a chat. I walked to Piazza della Signoria to pick up some brioche (croissants) for us and took a stroll down via Calzaiuoli.

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Living in Florence :: Photo shoot around the city

A young woman emailed me not long ago and asked me if I knew of a fotografo (photographer) who could take foto (photos) of her and her beau. I responded that one of our friends is a professional fotografo who normally does weddings. When I asked him, he was pretty excited because he loves doing servizi fotografici (photo shoots). And since itís not yet the season for weddings, he was free to work with them during the time they wanted to do it.

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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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