by Melinda Gallo

When I woke up on this stormy and rainy Sunday morning, I realized that I've been going to the house of my suoceri (in-laws) for Sunday lunch for an entire year. When I first went to their place for lunch, I felt a little nervous because it was important to me that they like me. From the beginning, they were very accommodating and treated me as if I were a part of the family even before I became Alessandro's moglie (wife).

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With summer in Florence comes open windows and noisy streets. We have the typical sounds like the bells of the Palazzo Vecchio that ring every hour and the cars and motorini (scooters) that whiz by on the lungarno (street along the Arno) at the end of our piazza. I sometimes hear people speaking below my window in the piazza while I'm working on my computer. At night, their voices carry even more especially when they walk in the narrow street below the side windows of our place.

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I attended Lisa McGarry's book signing for her new book, Piazzas of Florence, at the McRae's bookshop in late June. I had heard about the book signing one day when I was perusing books. I immediately put the date on my calendar as soon as I got home. I was happy that my friend Diana came to attend it as well after I told her what a wonderful book Lisa wrote. I not only wanted to get my book signed, but I wanted to meet Lisa who is American and lives in Florence.

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Via dei Neri is the one street in centro (downtown) that I always take to go just about anywhere because I live very close to it. I love how at different times of the day the street, which represents most of the city, changes.

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Only two weeks ago, I called FastWeb to tell them that I was having problems with my Internet connection. The woman at the other end of the phone went through the support question drill to make sure I had plugged in my modem and that I had tried restarting it. She told me that she'd be sending out a tecnico (technician) to check everything out the next morning. He arrived a half hour early for our appointment, but called me from the parking lot below our apartment to make sure I was home.

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Living in Florence :: Un matrimonio a Greve in Chianti

I haven't been to a matrimonio (wedding) with a ricevimento (reception) in a long time. Last year a friend got married at the comune (town hall) in Florence and then had a rinfresco (a party with drinks and appetizers) afterwards, but it was small and lasted only until about 8pm. So today I was excited to go to Greve in Chianti to attend our friend's matrimonio in the comune. Quickly after the ceremony, we were driving up a dirt road to the Castello di Verrazzano for the ricevimento.

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One of the greatest joys of going outside of Florence is viewing it from different angles and from different altitudes. Going to the Piazzale Michelangiolo is a true favorite of mine because it's so close and the views are stunning. But, I also do enjoy going to other places like Fiesole and Bellosguardo to take a peek at my beloved city.

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I suddenly have this desire to drive a car again. I usually only drive when I go back to the States and am so happy to drive up and down California to visit family and friends. But, at times it's exhausting as I feel like I drive the entire time I'm in the States. Now that Italy is more my home, I've been thinking that I should get a patente di guida italiana (Italian driving license) just in case I ever get the chance to drive. Because we live in the centro (downtown area), I have no need to drive. I don't even have a car, but a patente di guida italiana might be handy if I want to drive a motorino (scooter) as well since it's now a requirement.

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For those of us who live in Florence and walk around the centro (downtown area), must constantly adjust our daily routines. I didn't know that Florence welcomes over 12 million visitors each year, but at some times during the year it is much more crowded than others. The crowds in the peak periods can be overwhelming and the temperatures right now are not only high--in the 30's Celsius (90's Fahrenheit)--but when the sun hits my skin, it can be unbearable.

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Living in Florence :: Festa di San Giovanni e i fuochi

Today was a festa (holiday) only in Florence. It was the festa di San Giovanni Battista (Saint John the Baptist day), which is the patrono di Firenze (Florence's patron saint). I love how each city has its own saint and by extension its own festa. To celebrate, we went to see the fuochi d'artificio (fireworks) that went off under the Piazzale Michelangiolo.

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When my suocera (mother-in-law) called me yesterday to tell me that they won't be home on Sunday for lunch, I was disappointed. Not only was I not going to have lunch with them, but I wasn't going to have my weekly visit with them either. I look forward to our Sunday lunches together with such pleasure that I never make any plans that would prevent me from going.

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Living in Florence :: Arrivata di botto

It's hard to believe that just one week ago, I was carting around an ombrello (umbrella) in my purse and wearing a sweater. Today, estate arrivata di botto (summer suddenly arrived). Not only is it sunny and hot, but it's also humid. I left the house early this morning to fare delle commissioni (run a few errands) before the city heated up.

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As I was walking around San Frediano yesterday to get to my new favorite restaurant, Pandemonio, I was amazed at how different it is from the areas that I usually go to. San Frediano has a beauty all its own that I had forgotten about. I felt almost guilty for neglecting this part of the city and for not appreciating it. I'm certain that it's fairly normal for us to walk the same streets all the time and to stick to the places we're familiar with. However, Florence is a small enough city where venturing out a little bit from our beaten paths wouldn't require that much effort, and the rewards make it well worth it.

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My girlfriend Diana and I decided to meet up for lunch today. I was secretly hoping that we would go to a new place instead of one of our favorites. I often go to many of the same restaurants because I hate it when I go to a new place and am disappointed. I was happy when Diana suggested Pandemonio because I had heard of it, but had never gone before. After having eaten there once, I might not go anywhere else.

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Yesterday I was at my in-law's house for Sunday lunch and I remembered that I forgot to bring a pair of Alessandro's pants to get a button put back on. His mother is a sarta (seamstress) and he thought it'd be best if she did it because she has all the aghi (needles) and filo (thread). I had plans of returning during the week to drop off his pants, but his mom said that she'd give me what I need to sew the button onto his pants instead.

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