by Melinda Gallo

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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Living in Florence :: Prima partita della Fiorentina

I had been waiting for today's partita (soccer match) for weeks. I'd look at the tickets every few days and count the days until the big day. I heard on the radio this morning that the partita was sold out and that there would be 40,000 tifosi (soccer fans) attending Fiorentina's first home partita against Barcelona. It was a partita amichevole (friendly match), but I couldn't wait to see all the new giocatori (players) like Gilardino, Jovetic, and Melo, and some of the old ones like Frey, Pazzini, Mutu, and Donadel.

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Even when I first arrived in Florence, I knew it was a small city. I'd see the same people in a day or meet someone who was already friends with someone else I knew. Nothing really surprises me any more when it comes to meeting or seeing people. Ever since we moved into our apartment, I've had an inkling that I knew the man who lives on the first floor of my building. Today, I finally talked with him and found out that I had worked for him back in 1999 when I was living in Florence the first time.

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Living in Florence :: Visiting Florence with George

Today is the first time this year that someone has come to Florence to see me and to tour my beloved city. Usually someone in my family comes out for a visit, but this year no one has. My friend George emailed me a few weeks ago to tell me that he was coming to work in Milan for a week. He decided to come down for a quick visit of Florence because he had never been here and because we haven't seen each other in a year. We met at a conference for work many years ago when I was living in California and then he hired me to work on his company website. While we were working together, we began opening up to each other and we have since become good friends.

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I buy my frutta e verdura (fruits and vegetables) at the ortolano (green grocer) on via dei Neri. His mother, who is from Naples, works in the shop with him most mornings. I always know that his shop is open when I see some of the frutta on display outside. I smile each time I walk in because he wears a grembiule (apron) with the brand name of an Italian apple on it, Melinda.

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Yesterday a girlfriend and I took a train to Umbria to see Alicia Keys perform at the Umbria Jazz Festival. We met up with four other girlfriends and shared two hotel rooms to stay the night. My friend Kendra bought the tickets for us so all we had to do was show up in Perugia.

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One of the sad things about being an expat in Florence is that so many people I meet end up leaving. It probably happens in many places where many expats move to, but I notice it the most here. Every year, I have to say goodbye to more than one person who has become a good friend of mine. It's such a pleasure when I am able to meet someone who becomes a close friend that it can be difficult to say goodbye.

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Living in Florence :: Browsing the mercato dei fiori

After having colazione (breakfast) with my girlfriend at Caff Giacosa in Palazzo Strozzi, I decided to take a walk through Piazza Repubblica. Today was sunny and warm and after our storm on Monday, I've been trying to enjoy the good weather while we're having it. I was greeted by the many banchi (stalls) selling fiori (flowers) and piante (plants). There is something magical about all the colors mixed together that puts me in an even better mood.

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I love riding my bicicletta (bicycle) around town even though at times it can be stressful. If it's not the cars, buses, and motorini (scooters) whizzing by, it's the people who walk in the street that I try to avoid. They sometimes turn around and stare at me when I ring my campanello (bell) while they slowly get out of my way. I do give fair warning and ride rather slowly because I too am a pedestrian on the same streets. I hate it when people ride their bicicletta so fast that they come up behind me and ring their campanello so many times that I have to practically jump out of the way to avoid an incidente (accident).

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Living in Florence :: Sunday's summer storm

Yesterday morning, an unexpected storm broke out. The sky went dark and the rain belted down on the streets below within a few moments after the threatening clouds appeared. I looked out the window to watch the rain, which quickly turned into a heavy, but brief, grandinata (hailstorm). I couldn't help but watch as a few people ran in the street desperately looking for cover. After a few minutes, no one was walking in the street and the city seemed to come to a halt while almost everyone stopped to watch the storm erupt and then eventually fade.

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