by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Carmina Burana in the Giardino di Boboli

Last night was a hot, summer evening. The sun was about to set over the Arno when Alessandro and I walked over the Ponte alle Grazie. We made our way through the crowded streets down to Porta Romana. The Piazza Pitti is always such a surprise for me after having walked down the narrow via Guicciardini. We entered the entrance of the Giardino di Boboli at Porta Romana an hour before the performance would begin. My friend Jenufa was singing Carmina Burana again this year. I had missed her performance last year, so when I heard she was going to be the soprano for Carmina Burana, I couldn't wait to go.

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Today all bloggers in Italy are on sciopero (strike) to protest against a government bill that will introduce numerous laws to limit the freedom of expression on the Internet either in a blog or over a social network like FaceBook. As a blogger in Italy, I too am on strike for the day. May freedom to express oneself never be limited by anyone or any government!

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Living in Florence :: Do not climb the monuments!

While I was working at my scrivania (desk) this afternoon, I heard a woman's voice screaming. I jumped up from my desk and walked up to the window. I was shocked with what I saw: a young man trying to climb to the top of the monumento (monument) in the piazza below. The woman who was on the back of a motorino (moped) that had stopped in the middle of the street. I heard her better this time when she yelled, "Scendi gių di lė! Get down from there!"

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Living in Florence :: A peek behind a couple of restorations

Today I went on my first organized tour in Florence. I was invited by ContextTravel to participate in one of their tours, and I chose the one called "Salvaging Art: Current Restoration Projects in Florence." There is scaffolding all over town and I have watched them clean some of the statues and monuments, but never before had I had the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look and meet with the actual master restorers of important works that Florence holds in its treasure chest.

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I attended a networking event tonight that brought together a LinkedIn group of Italians with English-speakers in Florence, called FlorenceIN. Along with The Florentine, they were hosting a debate called, "Mediating cultural exchange: facing issues of adaptation and integration in Florence and Tuscany." It sounded interesting and even though I didn't know anyone else who was going, I decided to take a taxi to Bagno a Ripoli to the Together Florence Inn where the event was being held.

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This morning the sun was shining brightly, and had I left my house to return this afternoon, I would've been shocked to find that it could rain. It was also humid today, which made me feel a bit groggy. I kept the windows in our apartment open even though the heat bouncing off the stones in the piazza below wafted inside. It wasn't until lunch that I felt the air cool down. The sky became hazy and dark, but still I didn't believe it would rain. Even yesterday I heard tuono (thunder) in the distance, but not a drop of rain came.

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I always thought that prendere freddo allo stomaco (getting a cold draft on your stomach) was an old wives' tale. I've heard people say that you should cover up your stomach after you eat because it could cause you digestive problems. I never really knew what happened until we went to dinner Saturday night with my suoceri (in-laws). In the restaurant, the air conditioner was on very high while we were having dinner and suddenly my suocero (father-in-law) wasn't feeling well. He got so bad that we had to call an ambulanza (ambulance).

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Living in Florence :: Festa di San Giovanni

Each city in Italy has its own festa (holiday), which is based on the day of the city's patrono (patron saint). Florence's patrono is San Giovanni Battista (Saint John the Baptist) is today, June 24th. I walked around a little bit earlier today and saw that many shops were closed in centro (downtown) even though the streets were filled with turisti (tourists), enjoying the city and its monuments. For tonight's fuochi d'artificio (fireworks), we decided to see them from our place instead of standing along the lungarno (street along the Arno) as we did last year.

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After last night's temporale (thunder storm), we woke up to cooler temperatures and grey skies. My girlfriend and I had decided a couple of weeks ago to go to the spa to get pampered. Erin and I were fortunate enough that we had our big corsa (run) last night. At times during the corsa, I did think about our spa day and kept telling myself that I'd be rewarded for the sforzo (effort).

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Last night we ran in the Notturna di San Giovanni. I had been a little worried about the race because it didn't start until 9pm. I generally run in the morning as a way to start my day. Erin, Alessandro, and I walked to the Duomo while the city was still glowing as the sun was slowly setting. We ran into Annette who was warming up near the punto di partenza (starting point).

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I am obviously intrigued by other expats. I know quite a few in Florence and am friends with others. I am fortunate to be able to write about them in The Florentine. I enjoy finding out how they made their way to Florence and what they do here. Just this week alone I was invited to a lunch where I met other expats that I didn't know and then a book launch at the Paperback Exchange where there were others. I'm fortunate to continually meet new people in the city who have moved here and hear about their stories.

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Since I plan to run in the Notturna di San Giovanni next Saturday night, I wanted to make sure I was ready for it. I try to run about 5-6 kilometers each time and sometimes even include a slight incline to Piazzale Michelangiolo. Today, however, Alessandro and I decided to run a further distance to be more prepared for the 10k gara podistica (running competition).

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Any time an author comes to talk publicly, I love to see him/her speak. It's especially interesting to me when an author writes about Florence to see how they see the city. I had seen Christobel Kent's books in the bookshop, but haven't had a chance to read any of them yet. Yesterday evening she came to speak about her latest crime novel, "A Time of Mourning" at the Paperback Exchange.

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Living in Florence :: Thai cooking class

My mother exposed us to many different cuisines when I was growing up. And, I admit that living in Europe has brought me to seek out ethnic restaurants, especially Asian ones, no matter where I live. One of the reasons I created Dining in Florence was because I wanted to try all the sushi restaurants in town. I often eat Chinese, Japanese and Thai food because it reminds me a little bit of home. Today I was very excited because I would finally go to my first Thai cooking class held by Melanie from the Spice Lab at Saint James church in via Rucellai. Eating out is a treat, but I wondered how difficult it would be to learn how to make some of my favorite Thai dishes.

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On this cool summer morning, I am excited to go out for a run. Sometimes I'm not as motivated as I'd like to be, but when I know I'm going to be running up to the Piazzale Michelangiolo, I feel almost giddy. I love how I can see David from Ponte alle Grazie and then make my way up the winding viale (tree-lined avenue) to finally see him looking out over the city.

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