by Melinda Gallo

This morning I was unable to get motivated while sitting in front of my computer so I decided to go to the Uffizi. I’ve 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 Niccolò.

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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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If I didn't open the finestre (windows) this morning, I would have thought it was a warm day. When I approached my finestre, I could already feel the cold wafting from the glass. When I opened the persiane (shutters), the cold air surprised me. The clear sky was a light blue thanks to the winter sun casting its soft light from behind the hills and onto the city.

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Living in Florence :: Lucia's book presentation

I marked my friend Lucia's presentation on my calendar weeks ago and even though I just returned form a long one-day trip to Liverpool, I wouldn't have missed it for the world. She presented her new book, L'Unità debole: Lettere dell'ambasciatore americano George P. Marsh sull'Italia unita, which I had the honor to review in The Florentine this week as well. The presentation took place in the Sala Ferri del Gabinetto Vieusseux in Palazzo Strozzi, which is an extraordinary library.

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Living in Florence :: Prima trasferta a Liverpool

At 4am this morning, Alessandro and I were driving along the deserted lungarno (street alongside the Arno river) to meet up with our friend Filippo and another couple. I wasn't fully awake, but extremely excited to go on my first trasferta (away game) to watch the Fiorentina play against Liverpool in the Champions League. After Fiorentina won the home game against Liverpool, we couldn't wait for today's partita (soccer match).

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Living in Florence :: Changes in the city

I love how Florence is constantly changing. One day a piazza is empty and the next day a mercato (market) has taken up the entire space. I was just in Piazza di Santa Croce a few weeks ago and it was empty. But when I walked down via dei Bentaccordi and looked down Borgo dei Greci the other day, I saw that the annual Mercato di Natale (Christmas Market) had arrived. In the US, I know Christmas is right around the corner when all the sales are launched right after Thanksgiving, but here in Florence, it's this mercato.

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Living in Florence :: Another vantage point

I realized today that I'm a creature of habit: I walk down the same streets and go to the same areas. Today, however, I went to see a friend of mine at her office. I walked down via del Sole, hopping up and down the marciapiede (sidewalk) while other people were coming toward me. When I saw the chiesa (church) Santa Maria Novella, I was surprised to see it without the impalcatura (scaffolding) on its facciata (façade). I've been past it only a few times in the last year, but either at night or without my macchina fotografica (camera). Even though I was running a little late, I stopped to take a few quick foto (photos).

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Living in Florence :: Enjoying an autumnal Saturday

Some people leave the city when they have a day off, but when I have a day off, I visit my city. I had been wanting to go back to the Mostra dei Cristalli (Crystal Exhibition) since I first went in May. I thought I had missed my chance because it was supposed to end at the end of October, but fortunately it will be open until June 2010. I milled around the museo at least an hour contemplating certain cristalli (crystals). It was hard to leave, but i watned to visit the Giardino di Boboli while it was still light outside. I walked out to the courtyard of the museo and through the short passage that led to the giardino (garden).

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