by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Una partita indimenticabile

Last night's partita (soccer match) was indimenticabile (unforgettable). The Fiorentina was playing against Liverpool for the Champions League competition. Almost all the tifosi (soccer fans) that I know who support the Fiorentina also support Liverpool. And when it was announced that the two squadre (teams) would play together, there was great enthusiasm in the city leading up to the partita. Alessandro and I had our commemorative sciarpe (scarves) that have both of the teams' colors and logos to celebrate the partita before it even began.

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It wasn't until Alessandro and I were on vacanza (vacation) that we both realized that we might need glasses. He was having difficulty reading the fine print and I couldn't see as clearly as I used to any print that was far away. But I might also have been under the influence of my brother, who is an oculista (ophthalmologist) in the States. When he came in August for a visit, he messo una pulce nell'orecchio (put a seed of doubt in my mind) because he told me that I'll eventually need glasses. After talking with Alessandro's parents right after returning from vacanza, his mamma (mom) made an appointment for us with their oculista, and we went there yesterday together.

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After attending Andrea Ponsi's presentazione (presentation) of his book "Firenze Sensibile" in March, I have been impatient about publishing a racconto (short story) on the Florence from the Heart website. I was so happy when he told me that I could publish the first racconto that I chose, which is "Non ho portato con me gli acquerelli" ("I didnít bring my watercolours with me"). It is one of my favorite racconti in the book, and it is published on the site in both English and Italian.

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Living in Florence :: Identifying places as people

As with each place I have lived in, I tend to consider it a person with its personality, its qualities, and its shortcomings. To me, Florence is a woman who is beautiful, bold, assertive, vulnerable, capricious, creative, rich, intense, emotional, expressive, wise, sincere, loving, giving, and nurturing. When living in a place, we end up creating a relationship with it. This mutual relationship that can either make your heart soar or it can bring you down.

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It has been a little over a week since we left Miami Beach. The day we left, we walked along the beach under a blue sky. I stopped a few times to just stare into the beautiful and warm water. I find the ocean magical and special as the water tirelessly reaches out to us over the sandy beach. I was mesmerized by all the colors of the ocean--from a dark blue to a lighter blue and then from a soft teal to white as it hit the shore.

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Ever since I moved to Florence, I love that I often get to meet new people now who come to visit. My family and friends think of me whenever one of their friends comes to Florence for a visit. I'm always happy to meet them when I have time and at least have a drink or go for pranzo (lunch). Most of the people who come are just ecstatic to be in Florence, so it's a true pleasure to see their joy. Today I had the pleasure of meeting Carol Firenze who wrote a lovely book called The Passionate Olive in which she describes 101 things you can do with olive oil.

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I knew that Alessandro had chosen the dates of our viaggio (trip) around the partite di calcio (soccer matches) so we wouldn't miss any home partite in casa (home games), but I didn't know that we'd be there when no partita for any of the Italian squadre (teams) would be played because of the World Cup preliminari (preliminaries). I thought we'd have to call his babbo (dad) about how the Fiorentina did the next morning from Miami, but we ended up not missing any of the partite.

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Tonight we celebrated the wedding anniversary of my suoceri (in-laws). Sometimes Alessandro and I pick the restaurant to go to and other times they do. We generally pick a place in centro (in the downtown area) while they know more about places outside of town. I love it when they choose a place because I'm almost sure to have not yet been and am very sure that we'll be eating tasty Tuscan food.

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A friend of ours, Filippo, picked us up at the airport Tuesday afternoon. I was surprised how the much lower the temperature was than when we left a week ago. I slumped in the backseat of the car and looked out the window at the streets leading to centro (the city center). I finally perked up when we drove down via dei Cerretani toward the Duomo. When I first arrived in Florence in 1997, I remember looking up at the Duomo from the taxi and being amazed at how stunning it was. And when I we drove past it yesterday, I smiled just as I did that first time.

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Living in Florence :: Final hours in South Beach

For our last day in South Beach, we decided to walk along the beach and take in as much as we could before heading to the airport. We woke up early and headed straight for the beach after breakfast. The weather was beautiful and there were only a few clouds in the sky. We walked down Ocean Drive, which we hadn't done much of because we kept going to Lincoln Road. At every restaurant, young women would try to hand us flyers and tell us of their specials. Initially I felt impelled to thank them and keep walking, but after it happened about five or six times, I just walked by and didn't react at all.

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Living in Florence :: Holocaust Memorial

For our last full day in South Beach, we decided to walk around, do some last minute shopping, and visit the Holocaust Memorial. For the first time since we've been here, it was a hot and sunny day with no rain in sight. We walked up to Lincoln Road and then turned onto Meridian to get to the memorial. We tried to walk in the shade, but on the last two blocks to the memorial there weren't any trees.

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Living in Florence :: A quick day trip to Key West

At 7am, the bus arrived to pick us up. We weren't certain we wanted to go to Key West because our trip was so short, but in the end we figured it'd be a fun excursion. We had initially thought of staying in Key West for a couple of days, but the thought of changing hotels twice seemed crazy for a week-long trip to the US. As usual, the sky was a little cloudy, but still sunny outside. It wasn't until we were almost there that it began to rain. It rained so bad that Alessandro took pictures outside the front window of the bus where all he could see was white.

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Living in Florence :: Spending time on the beach

After our walking around and visiting a few places, we finally decided to go to the beach this morning. I love being in the water and walking along the beach, but I'm not as fond of laying out in the sun. One of the guys at our hotel lent us an umbrella so we didn't have to pay to rent one. We picked an empty spot on the beach, planted the umbrella, and headed for the water.

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Living in Florence :: Our visit to the Florida everglades

When researching about what to do in Miami Beach, I saw that we could visit the Florida everglades. The hotel had a brochure on it and organized everything for us. We were picked up in front of the hotel at 8 am. The bus took us around to a couple of other hotels to pick up some more people. We arrived at the Florida everglades a couple of hours later and were quickly ushered to an airboat. We sprayed ourselves with mosquito-repellent after the tour guide warned us of mosquitoes.

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Living in Florence :: Going shopping in a mall

We woke up early before the sun streamed into our hotel window. I jumped up to take a photo of the sun rising, but I was a little late even though I did catch the sun coming up behind the billowy clouds above the ocean. I was happy to finally catch my first sunrise over the ocean. I couldn't wait to get the day started, so we went for a run along the beach. At 7:30 am, it was already warm and humid outside, but we persevered and ran down the coast to the ports. Fortunately the clouds provided us with some shade, but not much.

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