by Melinda Gallo

For the past few days, I've been flipping through the Firenze Spettacolo looking for a new class to take. September is the month when everything seems to start up again, and somehow it feels inspiring to me to do something new. Alessandro and I feel like doing something new. We've talked about taking classes in Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, or Jujitsu.

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It's September and even though the temperatures are still high, autunno (fall) is officially here. It's sad to see the end of estate (summer) during which I enjoyed quieter streets and neighborhoods, but I'm happy for the change. My favorite place to see the change of seasons is in the food that's available. Now that estate is gone, I'll miss the cocomero (watermelon) and fiori di zucca (zucchini flowers).

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Living in Florence :: Festa della Rificolona

My friend Lisa had mentioned the Festa della Rificolona to me at least a week ago, but I didn't think I'd attend because I knew it was mostly for children. When I went to meet up with my friend Stef, who used to live here, at a parco (park) near Piazza Libertà today, I didn't think I'd be going to the Rificolona. We were joined by her friend and her friend's daughter for dinner near the Duomo and I accompanied them to Piazza Santissima Annunziata.

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After being away from Florence a few days, I wanted to walk around to a few of my favorite places to say hello to my beloved city. Because I was so exhausted from our trip and had work to catch up on, I planned a passeggiata (stroll) around the centro storico (historical center) in my head and couldn't wait for today when I could finally go out. I have been peering out the window at the brownish Arno river for a few days while I gathered strength for today's passeggiata.

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Living in Florence :: Campo Imperatore

On our way back to Florence, we decided to drive up to Campo Imperatore, which is at an altitude of about 2100 meters. All along the two-lane highway that leads up to the Campo Imperatore we saw cavalli (horses) and mucche (cows) grazing. There were very few cars driving down the road, but when we arrived up at the stazione sciistica (ski resort), there were a few cars, motorcycles and a bus.

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Living in Florence :: Alba Adriatica

It's been at least seven years since I've been to the mare (seaside) in Italy to go to bagnarmi (go swimming). I was happy when Alessandro stopped the car in Alba Adriatica because I have also never been to the Eastern coast of Italy. We drove over 1200 kilometers the past three days straight, so it was relaxing to finally pick a place to stay two nights.

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Living in Florence :: From Lecce to Alberobello

When I woke up this morning, I had no idea that I'd be sleeping in a trullo. We haven't made any plans for our trip and have called hotels a few hours before arriving after finding one on-line. We walked around Lecce for a few hours after we had our breakfast on a terrazza (terrace) in the Piazza Sant'Oronzo where the anfiteatro romano (Roman amphitheater) is located.

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Living in Florence :: My grandmother's hometown: Craco

We spent the night in Matera and visited the Sassi di Matera in the early morning. We headed down the winding roads to Craco where my nonna (grandmother) was born. As we drove up to see the abandoned town of Craco, which is shown in the picture, I burst out crying. I had never met my nonna and yet suddenly felt close to her.

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Living in Florence :: My grandfather's hometown: Orchi

Ever since I moved to Italy one of my biggest dreams has been to go to visit the two paesini (towns) where my nonni (grandparents) were born. Both of my father's parents were born in Italy, but grew up and met in New York. I never met them, but I have always wanted to see where they came from. And now that I live in Italy, I feel the pull to know more about them and to visit the paesino in Italy where they came from.

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The new website I've been working on over the past few months has finally come to fruition. Florence from the Heart publishes articles, photos and videos from locals who want to share their experiences of life in Florence.

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My friend Erin moved to San Niccolò not long ago and after meeting at at Il Rifrullo to have a caffè (coffee) this morning, I took her to visit Giardino Bardini. I wanted to introduce her to the giardino as she lives so close to it now, and it was also another excuse for me to return. It was a little cloudy when we got there, but the sun quickly began to shine brightly on us.

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Alessandro and I have been watching the Olimpiadi (Olympics) almost religiously every day at lunch since they began. It's interesting to watch the Olimpiadi in Italy because I have been exposed to sports that the Americans seem to focus on less. This is the first time that I have watched scherma (fencing) especially fioretto (foil) and spada (sword/epee), which I now appreciate much more now. When I watched the Olimpiadi in the US, I watched more swimming and gymnastics.

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Living in Florence :: Giardino Bardini

I can see some of the Giardino Bardini from the windows of our apartment. I see the hillside with the manicured grass, stone steps, and two crowning statues. I have had no excuse to not go sooner as one of the entrate (entrances) is about five minutes away from our apartment on via dei Bardi. I look out often to the Giardino Bardini, but rarely see anyone walking around up there. I had some free time before lunch today and decided to finally visit the giardino.

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I would normally shop for the best price for noleggiare una macchina (renting a car) on the Internet, but because in Florence almost all of the agenzie di autonoleggio (car rental agencies) are on or near Borgo Ognissanti I decided to get a preventivo (quote) in person. I rode my bicicletta (bicycle) down to Borgo Ognissanti, parked it, and went from one agenzia di autonoleggio to the next.

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Living in Florence :: Nowhere to park my bike

Not only is it illegal to park my bicicletta (bicycle) around any monumento (monument), but it's also illegal to park it behind or on the side of the rastrelliera (bike rack). It's bad enough that I could get a multa (fine) of up to 200 Euros, but what's worse is that they could tow it away like I saw them do in San Niccolò this weekend. I watched a man cut the catene (chains) with a pair of large shears and place the biciclette on the carro attrezzi (tow truck).

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