by Melinda Gallo

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'UnitÓ 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 (fašade). 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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Living in Florence :: A drive through the countryside

Our friends invited us to a birthday lunch outside of Florence today. I was excited to get out of the house since I've been staying home a lot. Every day I look out at the low hills across the stagnant Arno and crave to be outdoors. We left the house around noon and headed east. We drove along the Arno for a little while and then through some winding roads to a street that led us through vineyards and olive orchards. The colors of the vineyards struck me, so I asked Alessandro to stop the macchina (car). I jumped out to take a few foto (photos) because it was breathtakingly beautiful.

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While I was flipping through the giornale (newspaper) last Sunday, I found an article about a libro (book) called "Non vi lascer˛ orfani (I won't leave you to be orphans)" by Daria Bignardi. The word orfano (orpha) struck a chord with me so I read the article. The author, an Italian giornalista (journalist), began writing this libro about her family three weeks after her mother had passed away. I saw that Daria would be speaking at the Oblate, our new biblioteca (library) on via dell'Oriuolo and I felt a great desire to see her speak.

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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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