by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: A full day at the stadio

After yesterday's chilly weather, I was thrilled this morning when I saw the clear blue sky from our apartment windows. One of Alessandro's friends, Gianluca, had asked me if I wanted to go to the stadio (stadium) to watch the Fiorentina play for free if I would volunteer for the Fondazione Tomasello (Tomasello Foundation) to distribute uova di Pasqua (Easter eggs). The money received will be spent on research for genetic diseases for the young boy after whom the fondazione is named as well as other children who are afflicted with Mitochondrial diseases.

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A few days before spring officially begins and I'm truly excited. I love it when we are on the verge of a new season. I love how the weather is quirky: the sun also teases us with its warm afternoon rays, but then quickly disappears so we are left unprepared for the brisk evenings. Each morning I open up the persiane (shutters) and don't know if it's going to be sunny, cloudy, or rainy. I look out at the Arno and smile because it is so beautiful right now. When it rains a lot, the Arno becomes a muddy brown and in the summer it turns a murky green, but at this time of year it is an emerald green that shimmers in the light. It seems to be happy too.

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Living in Florence :: Enjoying my visit of Taste

For the last couple of years, I have been wanting to go to Taste: the fair of tastes. My friend Sarah and I rode our biciclette (bikes) down the relatively quiet streets to Stazione Leopolda, which is near the Porta al Prato. When we arrived, we parked our biciclette along the metal fence. We had planned on arriving right when the fiera (expo) opened, but the lines to get in were already long and the salone (hall) was full of people. I was attracted to the back wall of the main salone where there were multi-colored plates attached to it as shown in the picture.

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Living in Florence :: Watching the Fiorentina play

When Alessandro told me that the Fiorentina would be playing a partita amichevole (friendly soccer match) open to the public today, I was over the moon. I hadn't been to a partita in a long time. It didn't even matter to me that it was during my afternoon pisolino (nap); I'd just do without one for once. After I found out that the partita would start at 3pm, I decided to leave my place at 2pm to make sure I'd get a good spot to watch the Fiorentina and take some foto (pictures).

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Living in Florence :: Andrea Ponsi at Mel Bookstore

I have been wanting to go to Andrea Ponsi's presentazione (presentation) of his book "Firenze Sensibile" ever since I heard about it. I found Andrea's book at a small libreria (bookstore) one day by chance. Once I started reading it, I couldn't stop myself. I was touched by his lovely experience of Florence, a city that he wasn't born in but has been a resident in for many years. Andrea Ponsi, who is holding the microphone in the photo, is not only a published writer, but also an architect, designer, artist, and university professor.

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While most of my Italian girlfriends were planning on going out Sunday night to celebrate the Festa della Donna (International Woman's Day), many of my English-speaking girlfriends and I met up for brunch yesterday to begin the festivities early. I haven't been to a typical American-style brunch in at least a year, and was so excited to finally be going. All fifteen of us met up at noon and started off our brunch with either a mimosa or a bellini (prosecco with either orange juice or peach juice). We were also served a plate of fresh blueberry or chocolate muffins that we snatched up before it hit the table.

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Living in Florence :: Sunny days and hope for spring

After almost a week of rain, it was a wonderful surprise to wake up to a beautiful and bright sun yesterday and today. Even the tulipani (tulips) that I bought earlier this week were happy and stuck toward the window to soak up even more sun. I felt happy to look out the window and see the sun shining on San Niccolò. I noticed that once the sun comes out, people tend to gravitate toward it.

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For many years, I have resisted eating pizza in Florence because I prefer pizza alta (thick crust pizza). Here in Florence, they generally make pizza bassa (thin crust pizza). When Alessandro and I started dating almost two years ago, he took me to a small pizzeria, called Strapizzami, that can only welcome about 12 people unless the Florentine rugby team arrives and then there are about 25 of us packed inside. Ever since my first taste of their pizza, we go back almost every Friday for our weekly treat.

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For the past few days in a row, I woke up to a grey and misty sky with rain coming down. The dark-colored Arno is flowing steadily toward the Ponte Vecchio. I look out my window to watch the people across the Arno walking down the street with their umbrellas bobbing up and down with each step. I can't even see beyond the low hills because of the low clouds. When I sit back down at my desk, I can hear the water splashing in the street as cars drive by.

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It wasn't until I read the article published in the Florentine, "More than Mimosa," that I began to think even more about how I feel about being a woman in Florence. I was honored to be quoted in the article. The editor sent me a list of questions, but I had no idea what everyone else would say. I'm happy that we each had different issues as it certainly shows the varied experiences we women share in Florence, and, I believe, the world.

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I have lived in Europe for about 14 years in all and never have I been to a dentist outside of the US. I'm not fond of going to the dentist in general, but I didn't feel comfortable going when I was living in France or England. I assume that their dentists are qualified and excellent, but I preferred going when I would travel back to the US instead. Because I haven't gone back to the US since October 2007, I decided that I should go at least for a cleaning.

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I never thought I'd say there was a drawback to living so close to one of my favorite gelaterie (ice cream shops) until I realized that I wasn't open to trying any new ones. I'm picky with food in general and even more so when it comes to sweets. I don't like to waste calories on eating anything that I don't like. I also prefer gelaterie artigianali, which means that the gelato (ice cream) is usually made on the premises and not in large quantities. Today, I decided to try a gelateria that's even closer to my house only after I discovered that they made the gelato themselves.

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On Florence from the Heart, Lisa McGarry has published an excerpt of her book Piazzas of Florence. I'm fortunate enough to be friends with Lisa and have enjoyed our conversations about Florence. One of her first questions to me was, "What is your favorite piazza in Florence?" I remember that I blurted out, "Santa Croce." She told me that hers was Santo Spirito, so I'm even happier that the excerpt of her book that she chose is about her favorite piazza in Florence.

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This morning, I went to the Gallery Hotel to meet a friend for a caffè (coffee). They have a lavish library with large couches and coffee tables for their guests. We caught the attention of a cameriere (waitress) who was walking by to order our drinks. Just a few minutes later, Per Kroldrup, who plays for the Fiorentina, walked in. He and his girlfriend/spouse sat down on the couches behind us, so I couldn't watch them.

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My suocero (father-in-law) came to pick me up for my Sunday lunch today a little earlier. He agreed to take me to the local circolo culturale (cultural center) to vote in the elezioni primarie (primaries). I was looking forward to participating in these elezioni to select a candidato (candidate) for sindaco (mayor) of Florence.

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