by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Making time

Ever since I have returned to Florence, Iíve been so busy that i havenít had much time to enjoy my beloved city. Besides the work that piled up in my absence, I had articles to write, interviews to do, and other projects to work on. I havenít even had much time to visit with my friends either these past few days. Today, however, I finally made some time to walk around a bit and take a couple of foto (photos) before meeting up with a friend for a caffŤ (coffee).

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Living in Florence :: Strolling the streets

For the first day this week I have finally found time to walk around Florence. I had no plans when I left our apartment and found myself going in many directions. I love strolling the streets and just seeing where my heart leads me. I had my macchina fotografica (camera) in hand equipped with my new obiettivo (lens) that I bought in the US on my last trip. I not only wanted to try it out, but I also wanted to see what my beloved city would look like.

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I just got back from my trip to California. This last trip was probably one of my most memorable because of all the people--both old and new--that I connected with. The first thing I did when I got home today was look out our window to see the Arno. Alessandro told me that it had rained a lot while I was gone, but the level of the water wasnít that high and the color of the water was a cool green.

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Tomorrow I take off for California for a couple of weeks. Iíve been a little sad to leave my city lately, but I am happy to see many people I havenít seen in a long time. The timing around my viaggio (trip) is to surprise my niece for her 11th birthday. I havenít seen her since Alessandro and I were out in California in October 2007. The saddest part about my trip is that my marito (husband) is staying behind in Florence. I love it when he comes with me because heís my favorite piece of the city that I love.

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Life is full of wonderful surprises. One thing I love about living in Florence is that I see people I know and we stop to chat. There is a shop that sells all the Fiorentina paraphenalia in via del Corso where I go once in a while. Over the past few years, Iíve bought gifts for others and myself. In that time, Iíve come to know the two guys who run the shop, Simone and Claudio. We talk about the partite (games) and the calciatori (soccer players) when we meet up. Today while I was talking to Claudio, Simone ran in and said, ďFelipe sta arrivando. Prepara una maglia da firmare. (Felipe is coming. Get a jersey ready for him to sign.)Ē

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On Monday morning after having a coffee with a friend, I popped into Museo Stefano Bardini. Iíve been wanting to go back since I first went last year after it reopened. When I walked by and saw that it was open I couldnít resist not going for a visit. I learned that the museo (museum) is only open a few days a week: Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

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This morning I was unable to get motivated while sitting in front of my computer so I decided to go to the Uffizi. Iíve been wanting to go back ever since I purchased my Amici degli Uffizi (Friends of the Uffizi) annual tessera (card) last week. The woman who was working in the office asked me if I was able to visit all the museums last year. I realized that I had been to most of them, but not the Uffizi. Even though I walk past it almost every day, I shy away from going sometimes because either there are large crowds to content with or there is just so much to see.

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Today is a big day: the end of the holiday season and the beginning of the saldi (sales). The Italians say, "Con l'Epifania tutte le feste vanno via. With the Epiphany, all the holidays go away." Epifania is the last festa (holiday) until Pasqua (Easter). In Florence, the day after the Epifania marks the start of the saldi. I noticed yesterday that a few of the shops were closed, but some of the ones that were open were already offering unadvertised saldi.

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Living in Florence :: First sun of the year

Today was the first day in at least a week that the rain didn't wake me up. It was so beautiful outside that I decided to walk up to Piazzale Michelangiolo where I haven't been since it snowed two weeks ago. With blue skies and much cooler temperatures, I bundled up and headed out the door. I walked across Ponte alle Grazie and noticed that the water level in the Arno magically lowered. I stood there for a few minutes and noticed that on the south side, the water seemed to glide under the ponte (bridge) and on the side toward Ponte Vecchio, it loudly crashed into waves.

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Living in Florence :: Beginning the year full of hope

The last day of the year was rainy. It hasn't stopped raining much today, but when it did, I went outside to take a few foto (photos) in the afternoon and in the early evening. I walked to Ponte alle Grazie to look at the Arno and the views of my beloved city. With all the rain we've been having in Tuscany, the Arno has continued to rise. It has even changed color and is now a light brown. Even though nothing along the Arno changes, I still love the views from Ponte alle Grazie in both directions: toward Ponte Vecchio and toward San NiccolÚ.

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Living in Florence :: Buon Natale!

The church bells just chimed throughout the city, signaling the midnight mass for Natale (Christmas). Unfortunately the neve (snow) has melted and now it is raining, but the luci (lights) on a tree at the Giardino Bardini across the Arno from our place are shining brightly in the shape of a albero di Natale (Christmas tree). May you all enjoy a Buon Natale with your loved ones and families!

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Living in Florence :: Bandiere e luci

I love Natale (Christmas) in Florence. This year we even had some neve (snow), which was a nice treat. Normally, every eyar luci (lights) are strung up on many streets in centro (in the downtown area) that set the tone for the holiday season. They even put them on early this year to entice shoppers to start buying early. A few weeks ago, they also put up bandiere (flags) for the different quartieri (quarters) of the city to bring some extra color to the streets as well. Tonight while I walked around the city to shop for regali (gifts) and pensierini (little gifts), I took a couple of foto (photos) of the strade (streets).

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Living in Florence :: Snow not melting

Even though temperatures didn't increase on Saturday after the nevicata (snowfall), I didn't think that we would still have snow the next day. When I looked out my window this morning, I thought that maybe the sun would warm up the city and melt the snow, but it didn't. I saw snow on the buildings and treetops across the Arno so I grabbed my macchina fotografica (camera) and ran out the door. When I got outside, the temperatures seemed much colder than yesterday, so I knew that the snow wasn't going anywhere.

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Living in Florence :: Snow in the city

Last night I went to a friend's for a small party and brought my macchina fotografica (camera) with me. On the news, they had been talking about the possibility of snow in Florence for the past few days. With the misty white sky we had all day, I knew it was going to snow. My friend turned off the lights in her apartment when she noticed the snow falling outside the windows. I was so excited that I couldn't wait to get outside to take some foto (photos).

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