by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Five years today

Five years ago today I returned to Florence and began writing my blog. As a gift to myself, I decided to buy a Fiorino (Florin). I have always wanted to buy one, but never had an occasion to do so. For me the fiorino represents my city especially since it has the giglio (fleur de lys) on one side and San Giovanni, which is Florence's patron saint, on the other.

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Living in Florence :: Terrazze del Duomo

I found out about the Terrazze del Duomo (Terraces of the Duomo) by chance a few months ago. I had originally asked two different friends of mine, but we never found the time to go together. Then, just a month ago, Alessandro told me that a group of his colleghi (colleagues) had organized a visit. I was so excited to go that he signed us up the next day. Every time I walked past the Duomo these past few weeks, I have looked up to see the terrazze and tried to imagine what it would be like up there. I couldn't wait for the experience myself, so when we met up with the group in front of the Duomo, I was beside myself.

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A veil of grey blanketed the city today. The hills in the distance seemed softer and faded into the sky. It was as if the city had been stranded and nothing beyond my view existed. I felt like I was in a dream where everything was hazy and unclear. After being chained to my desk working for the past two days, I finally went outside for a walk to enjoy my city.

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This morning I woke up to the church bells chiming and the rain falling on the roof above my head. After I got out of bed, I stood at the window with my legs leaning against the radiator as it was warming up. The sky was a blanket of grey with the outlines of a few clouds floating slowly past while rain was falling straight down in hazy lines. The smoke billowing out of the chimney of a palazzo (building) across the Arno, which is now a dull green, caught my eye. The streets below were virtually empty with a few people walking by holding umbrellas above their heads. In Italian, it's the only day we wish for people to enjoy: "Buona Domenica (Have a good Sunday)," my friends and I say to each other. Some people make the same wish about weekends, but more do so about Sundays. When I wake up to a quiet Sunday like today, I realize that there is so much to enjoy.

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Living in Florence :: Presentation of Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence

While the sun was setting behind the tall buildings in my neighborhood, I walked up via dei Neri and then up the street between the Uffizi and Palazzo Vecchio to meet my friend Lucia. We had planned to go to the first presentation of Jane Fortune's latest book, "Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence." After reading the two interviews of Jane Fortune in The Florentine in issues 110 and 111, I became very interested in the book. When I found out that the first presentation would be held in the Biblioteca degli Uffizi (Uffizi Library), I was even more excited. It's not a part of the Uffizi that is accessible to the public, so I couldn't wait to go.

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I had been looking forward to seeing the play The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter for weeks. Not just because it was going to be in English, but also because my friend Claire was going to be performing in it. The play, which was produced by Performance International, was being offered as an AperiTeatro. I found the unique combination of an aperitivo before the spettacolo (show) an intriguing idea to say the least. I bought my ticket last week because I had to be there for the opening, which was last night.

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Living in Florence :: One week later

Before having lunch with my suoceri (in-laws) today, I had time to run in centro (downtown) to check out the piazza around the Duomo that they made pedonale (pedestrian) last week. With my macchina fotografica (camera) around my neck, I left our apartment. I only had an hour to explore the area a little and take a few foto (photos). I walked down via dei Neri toward the Uffizi and passed through Piazza della Signoria, zigzagging my way through the crowds. I made a beeline for the Duomo by walking down via Calzaiuoli.

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Living in Florence :: Piazza Duomo now a pedestrian area

By 10am this morning I was walking down via dei Neri toward the Uffizi. I had planned to visit the Palazzo Vecchio because today is La Giornata del Fiorentino (Florentine Day) when they offer free visite guidate (guided tours) for residents. But because it was only a cloudy day and I felt like staying outside, I decided to walk toward the Duomo where some important festivities were taking place. Today all the streets around the Duomo are now closed to make the area pedonale (pedestrian). I had gone to the Duomo yesterday to take a few foto (pictures) with cars, buses, and motorini (scooters) passing by for the last time before this historic change.

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Living in Florence :: A guided tour of the Jewish Synagogue

I had been looking forward to this day for a long time. I signed up to go on a guided tour of the Jewish Synagogue in Florence, organized by The Florentine. After living in Florence for many years, I had never visited the sinagoga (synagogue) before. I had made plans a few times to go with a couple of different friends, but unfortunately it never happened. On my way to the sinagoga this afternoon, I walked past Santa Croce and looked up at the Star of David on the facciata (façade) of the chiesa (church). I hadn't known the relationship between that symbol and the sinagoga. Little did I know that during the guided tour, I'd find out.

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Living in Florence :: Una passeggiata in centro

After having a caffè (coffee) with a girlfriend this morning, I went for a passeggiata (walk) around centro (downtown). I don't go in centro on the weekends because the streets are usually crowded. I had been wanting to take foto (photos) for a while because we've had clear blue skies this entire week. A few times this last week, I had been walking around and regretted not having my macchina fotografica (camera). I slowed down my usually fast pace to take in the details of buildings and enjoy the city.

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I was invited by a friend to attend a special event at the Palazzo Tornabuoni yesterday that was reserved for club members. The biographer Victoria Glendinning and the literary agent Al Zukerman were scheduled to speak informally to a small group of people. I arrived early to the Palazzo Tornabuoni and was greeted by the man at the door. After finding my name on his list, another man escorted me inside to the elevator and told me to go to the first floor. Another man who took the elevator up showed me the way to the luxurious library with couches, chairs, and tables organized in small groups. The room was lined with books organized by subject, which was shown at the top of the bookshelf. There was a bar at the end of the library with two men who greeted me when I walked in. I had arrived early and settled myself down on a couch that faced one of the walls of books.

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I have been enjoying writing the Expats in Florence articles for The Florentine. It's a great opportunity for me to meet new people who live in Florence, hear their stories, and share them with others. The first few articles were about people I knew personally. A few of them were the inspiration for me to write the articles in the first place. I have a long list of people that I'd like to interview as well as new names getting added quite often.

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I usually love Mondays because they mark the beginning of the week. I love them so much that I was even excited that my birthday fell on a Monday this year so that I could start off the week with a bang. Unfortunately a few of my last minute plans were cancelled due to it falling on a Monday. I don't generally plan in advance, because things always seem to fall into place. To start off my birthday I decided on one thing the day before: I would take the day off of work and do only what I wanted to do all day.

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After having a coffee with one of my girlfriends this morning, I got home and called Alessandro. I often stand at my finestra (window) when I'm talking on the phone so that I can look out at the piazza and stare at the Arno. I love seeing who is walking by and what's going on outside. I usually glance over to where I park my bicicletta (bicycle) in front of the Camera di Commercio just to see if someone has put trash in my cestino (basket). Today, however, when I looked out, I noticed that my bicicletta was missing.

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Living in Florence :: The first of October

When I peeked my head out the window this morning, I saw that the weather had changed just a little. A few weeks ago, we had a couple of cool days, then some rain, and just last week the sun came back out and the temperatures were warm all over again. When I opened the persiane (shutters), it was cool and low clouds were scattered across the sky. For me it was a sign of the beginning of my favorite season, autunno (fall).

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