by Melinda Gallo

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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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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