by Melinda Gallo

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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Living in Florence :: Visiting the Palazzo Medici Riccardi

Last night I planned that I would visit the Palazzo Medici Riccardi. I have tried to visit it a couple of times in the past, but was unable to get inside. One time I arrived on Wednesday, when it was closed, and another time the woman told my friend and I that it'd be better to come back another time because there was already a group visiting the Cappella dei Magi (Chapel of the Magi). When a friend wrote me to tell me about the newly restored Madonna del Cardellino (Madonna of the Goldfinch) that is currently being exhibited at the palazzo I figured that it'd be best to see it before it leaves at the end of the month on a possible international tour.

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I walked into the empty chiesa (church), Orsanmichele, and headed for the tabernacolo (tabernacle) that houses the illuminated "Madonna and Child" painting. There were four candle trees that were placed in front of the tabernacolo. Unlit candles were splayed out on the bottom rack while a few lit candles were flickering at the top. I walked to the candle tree with only one candle on top and put my money in the slot labelled Offerta (Offer/Donation). I picked out two white candles in red tin containers and lit one with the candle at the top and the other with my first candle.

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I am a huge tifosa (fan) for the Fiorentina, the soccer team in Florence. Every Sunday I watch the game on TV, and sometimes am fortunate enough to go to the stadio (stadium). I used to only be able to watch the partite (matches) at my in-laws' house, but when I had a lot of work and needed to stay home, I subscribed to Sky Sport/Calcio (Soccer). Fortunately, I have a lot of people with whom I can share my love of calcio, especially my marito (husband).

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This morning I met up with one of my good friends at Vivoli to have a caffè (coffee). I was happy that there were still some brioche (croissants) in the glass case when I arrived because a few times I've been disappointed because there weren't any left. I stood inside because I didn't want to wait outside. There were a few people standing alone at the bar focusing on eating their brioche and sipping on a caffé (coffee). I stood next to a shelf where there were two newspapers, and began reading about yesterday's partita (soccer match) in one of the newspapers while I waited for my friend to arrive.

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Living in Florence :: Catching the sunset from Piazzale Michelangiolo

Early this evening Alessandro and I walked up to Piazzale Michelangiolo to take a few pictures. We wanted to arrive before the sun set to see if the light was any better than the other day when I went up alone. The parking lot had many cars and a few people were standing outside eating gelato (ice cream).

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Living in Florence :: Taking in the view from San Miniato

This morning I headed out of our apartment and walked up the wide steps to reach Piazzale Michelangiolo. I had been wanting to go up there to take some pictures and when I saw that the sky was clear, I thought that it'd be perfect. I expected to see more people taking in the view, but there was only a handful of us. A couple of vendors have set up their stands to sell drinks, souvenirs, tee shirts, and scarves. I walked to the corner closest to the Duomo and took a few shots. I wasn't that pleased with the late-morning light as the city below appeared a bit hazy.

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If the aperitivo tonight wasn't held at the Four Seasons, I don't know for sure if I'd have gone. A young fiorentino, Matteo Renzi, is casting his bid to become the next sindaco (mayor) of Florence, and he has invited the active, but little recognized, minority of English-speaking residents.

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Living in Florence :: Circling the city for a pastry shop

For a dinner at a friend's house tonight, I decided to go to a pasticceria (pastry shop) to buy a torta (cake). The weather looked a little iffy this morning, so I ran out as soon as I could to find an open pasticceria. I had a few ideas in my head of where I wanted to go, but I wanted to stay close by. I headed along the lungarno (street that runs along the Arno) toward the Ponte Vecchio because I wanted to try a pasticceria that I had heard about.

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Living in Florence :: Fiera del cioccolato

Every day this week as I walked past Santa Croce, I saw men working on the building that would house the many bancarelle (stands) for the Fiera del cioccolato. I wanted to go as soon as it opened on Thursday, but I didn't have a chance. I wanted to go before Sunday because that's usually the busiest day for the fiera because many people go for a passeggiata (walk) around town. I didn't go Friday because it was raining, so my only day was today.

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