by Melinda Gallo

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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I don't think you have to be in Florence long to realize what a pest the zanzare (mosquitoes) are. If you're here for any period of time in the summer, you quickly realize that they can be quite ferocious. The longer you're here, the more you realize you have to buy a plethora of products to keep them away as well as to find relief once you've been bitten.

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I woke up to the rumblings of thunder this morning. For ferragosto (mid-August holiday), it was the most unexpected weather. Normally, it's a hot and sunny day like the past few we've had. It's the holiday many people who aren't going away for August look forward to. Everything is closed, the locals have left, and a blanket of quiet covers the city. The streets were certainly peaceful this morning, but the sound of a storm loomed close by.

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I never realize how set I am in my ways until I am forced to go to a new negozio da parrucchiere/parrucchiere (hair salon). My usual parrucchiere (male hairdresser) is on holiday, the one closest to my apartment is also closed, and so I had no choice but to find a new parrucchiere. I talked to a few of the ones that I'd seen in centro (downtown), but only one that I liked was open on the day before Ferragosto (mid-August holiday). I don't blame them for wanting to get a head-start on the festa (holiday) since the city has emptied out quite a bit.

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I moved my bicicletta (bicycle) from the chains that surround the monument in my piazza to a side street near our apartment. Because of the new leggi (laws) that they passed not long ago, I felt that it'd be better to move my bicicletta from the well-lit piazza because I might have gotten a multa (fine) otherwise. When I walked by my bicicletta yesterday, I noticed that someone had removed the sella (seat). I used to also look at it every time I was at the window, but now my bicicletta is out of eyeshot.

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Because I can get a good gelato (ice cream) any time I want in Florence, I tend to rarely go and eat one. In the summer, I generally get one when I'm walking around after dinner outside or with friends who come to Florence for a visit. Almost everyone who comes to visit always want to have a gelato and a cappuccino, but not in that order. I don't blame them. They are two of my favorite things to eat in Italy. And, today I was fortunate enough to have a cappuccino and two gelati (ice creams).

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At the beginning of August, I always find myself feeling a bit melancholy. Sometimes I try not to let the sadness in my heart come out, but sometimes it gets the best of me. My mother's birthday was today, my grandmother's (my mother's mother) was yesterday, and my dad's birthday was Friday. They are days that I used to celebrate with them, but now that they're gone, I find them to be the most unbearable days of the year for me.

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Living in Florence :: Cappelle Medicee

This morning a little before 8am, I was on my way to the Mercato Centrale near San Lorenzo so that I could get some fresh pesce (fish) and I decided to visit the Cappelle Medicee (Medici Chapels). I walked past the Cappelle Mediceeand read that it opened at 8:15 am. I walked to a pasticceria (pastry shop), Pasticceria Sieni, where I had a cappuccino and a warm sfoglia con crema (puff pastry with cream). I find their sfoglie to be the best in Florence because they are cooked in such a way that the sugar on the outside is perfectly caramelized.

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Living in Florence :: I Grandi Bronzi del Battistero

I'm almost embarrassed to say that my last visit to my favorite museum, Museo del Bargello, was over two and a half years ago. I walk by the museo (museum) often and I had hoped to go back more often, but I just haven't had a chance. There are so many other things that I want to see in centro (downtown) and sometimes I get busy with work, seeing my friends or visiting new exhibitions that I don't have the time to visit my favorite monumenti (monuments) and musei. It's easy to put things off when things are so accessible, but I try to set aside time when I can for my cultural visits in Florence.

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August is the month when almost everyone takes off on vacanza (vacation) usually either before or after Ferragosto (August 15th). Because so many of my amici are going away at some time during the month of August, there is a mad rush to see everyone before they leave.

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Living in Florence :: Un anno sull'Arno

Today marks the one year anniversary of our living in our apartment sull'Arno (along the Arno). Not only did we move into this apartment, but we also moved in together for the first time. We have both been loving our apartment sull'Arno. Alessandro wasn't convinced on living in centro (downtown) at first because he thought it would be too loud and crazt. I was happy when I overheard him telling his friends the other night that he loved living in centro.

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A few new leggi (laws) were approved by the giunta (committee) last week that affect a lot of people, including myself. It seems that the new leggi were also approved by the consiglio comunale (town council) and have supposedly taken effect.

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