by Melinda Gallo

After Natale (Christmas) and the Nuovo anno (New Year), the final festa (holiday) that remains is Epifania (Epiphany) on January 6th. In three weeks, we celebrate three feste, which is exciting and yet a lot all at once. The Epifania is mostly a festa for children these days, but it's a good excuse to have a big lunch with the family. In Florence, the Epifania is probably more important than in other cities because the day after this festa is when all the saldi (sales) begin and last for almost six weeks.

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Today when Alessandro and I checked the buca delle lettere (mail box), which is just a slit in the portone (door) to our building, we found a portafoglio (wallet). The first thing we did was look at the documenti (papers) to see who it belonged to. I imagined it was someone who lived in our building, but we quickly found out that it belonged to a woman living near Pavia, which is in the north of Italy. Someone must have stolen it and discarded the portafoglio so that someone else would take care of returning the person's documenti to them.

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Living in Florence :: Buona fortuna per l'anno nuovo

Early this morning as the sun was rising slowly behind the dark, thick clouds, men in orange rain suits were sweeping the street along the Arno river. I looked out my window onto the piazza below where the rain had not stopped falling since yesterday afternoon. The maltempo (bad weather) didn't affet the celebrations too much as we heard the botti di capodanno (New Year's fireworks) until late in the night and early into the morning.

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Living in Florence :: Wandering the streets on the last day of the year

When the bus dropped me off near the Duomo after going to an appointment outside of the centro (downtown area), I was struck by the crowds of people walking in front of the Duomo this afternoon. For a few weeks, the streets weren't empty, but I hadn't seen them this busy for many months. While I walked down via Calzaiuoli toward Piazza della Signoria, the sun leapt out of the clouds, and I decided to walk around town to take a few pictures before going home.

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Living in Florence :: Too cold for a stroll

As I stood in our warm apartment this morning, I was struck by the statua (statue) in Piazza Mentana and the color of the Arno, which has been a light green for the past few days. I couldn't help but try out my new macchina fotografica (camera) from our apartment windows. I had to open the window for a few minutes to wait for some people to pass by so I could get a clear shot, but it was worth the wait. Since we have lived in our apartment, I have taken many pictures of the statua, but I think this might be my favorite one up to now.

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Living in Florence :: Nuova macchina fotografica

Babbo Natale (Santa Claus) came in the form of my friend Amy who took a plane from the US to lug my new macchina fotografica (camera) to me. I ordered it over the Internet and had it sent to my friend's office. She was kind enough to bring me my new toy, which I couldn't wait to use. After going to her house, I ran home to recharge the batteries, and set it up.

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Earlier this afternoon I was walking around town to fare acquisti (shopping) and the shops were filled with scores of people. I walked up to the door of Universo Sport next to the Duomo to get one last gift, but when I saw the line of people waiting at the cassa (register), I didn't even enter the shop. To get home, I walked briskly down via Calzaiuoli where I had to zig-zag my way to get to the other end near Piazza della Signoria.

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I just posted an article on my website Florence from the Heart about my favorite piazza: Piazza di Santa Croce. I had gone to the piazza many times over the last few months to take pictures and capture my feelings about it. I think that everyone has a favorite piazza in Florence and even though there are a few others I admire and enjoy, Piazza di Santa Croce seems to me to be the most fascinating of all for me. I especially love the mix of the permanent with the temporary. The residents with the tourists. And the palazzi (buildings) and basilica (church) and the makeshift stands that come and go in the piazza all year round.

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Living in Florence :: Once the shops close

For the last Saturday evening before Natale (Christmas), I would normally avoid the busy streets in centro (in the downtown area). Every day this entire week when I found myself in centro, the streets have been packed with people. These past few weeks, I have enjoyed admiring the festive streets: Christmas trees lined up in large square planters in the middle of via Calzaiuoli and lights strung up high above a few of the side streets. I would normally stay home on such a busy evening, but when a girlfriend of mine invited me out for a drink at Rivoire, I didn't hesitate for one moment.

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As I put the key into the door of our apartment building yesterday, I heard someone call out, "Gallo Melinda." When I turned around, I saw my postina (postwoman) on her motorino coming up behind me. "Ho un pacco per te. Devi pagare qualcosa per, I have a package for you. You have to pay something though," she said. She flashed me a piece of paper with my name and the amount due. It seemed high until I saw the breakdown of the expenses for the dogana (customs) and the additional 20% IVA (tax) on the amount declared on the pacco (package).

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After having filed my request for cittadinanza italiana (Italian citizenship) because of my nonni last year, I've been trying not to think too much about it, and just hoping that it'll magically arrive sooner rather than later. I was told the wait would be anywhere from a year and a half to three years. This week, however, I decided to pass by the Prefettura (Prefecture) where I filed for my cittadinanza italiana to inquire about its status. I was told that I could call Rome directly, but without my numero della pratica (file number), they couldn't give me any information over the phone. My suocero (father-in-law) has a friend who works at the Prefettura who said that I should go in myself to check up on my pratica (file) and get the numero della pratica.

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A few weeks ago, I participated in the Notes to Heaven event in piazza Santo Spirito. The film student who organized the event for her first film with the same name asked to interview me along with a few other people to talk about losing a loved one. This evening, they showed the resulting film at the Odeon theatre for the Florence International Film Festival organized by the Florence Film School.

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Living in Florence :: L'Arno  gonfio

This morning when I opened the persiane (shutters) of the windows that face the Arno, I saw that it was gonfio (full). The sometimes slow-moving Arno was flowing steadily and quickly with muddy water. It was beautiful to hear the water rushing by. I kept my eyes glued on the mesmerizing Arno and watched the odd tree trunk floating by as well. Last Friday they opened up one of the dighe (dams) and the water seemed quite high. I took pictures, but at night it was difficult to make out how gonfio the Arno was.

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Living in Florence :: Christmas is approaching

A few of the streets in Florence have lights strung up between the buildings and many shops have already put in Christmas decorations in their vetrine (shop winows), but nothing announces the coming of Christmas for me like the annual Mercato di Natale (Christmas Market) in Piazza Santa Croce. Every year the entire piazza is filled with bancarelle (stands) that sell Christmas gifts, food, and even clothing.

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Living in Florence :: Maratona di Firenze at a distance

At around 7 this morning while the sun was rising, I looked out our apartment windows where numerous podisti (runners) were heading toward Piazzale Michelangiolo for the beginning of the Maratona di Firenze. The sun was revealing a dark, patchy sky with very few rays of sunshine beaming through. Some of the podisti were jogging while others were walking toward the Ponte alle Grazie. Many of the podisti were already sporting plastic impermeabili (rain jackets) because rain was imminent.

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