by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Primo maggio in the mountains

I love Florence so much that sometimes I don't even want to leave it. I was happy however when my suoceri (in-laws) asked me out to lunch for primo maggio (May 1st, which is Labor Day in Italy) to the same osteria (restaurant) we went to in Castagno d'Andrea for Easter. When we went there just about five weeks ago, it was snowing so I was hoping for clear skies and warmer weather. Unfortunately, it was raining when we left, but after lunch, the sky cleared and we all went for a walk.

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Last Saturday, I received a phone call from the woman at the comune (city hall) who is working on transcribing our marriage. She told me that the Consolato italiano (Italian consulate) had put the date of my divorce as my date of birth, including the year. To rectify it, she asked me to come by on Tuesday to sign a document stating the change to be made to our atto di matrimonio (marriage certificate).

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Living in Florence :: Rainy trip to Siena

After numerous sunny days in Florence, I thought for sure that the sun would be shining for my day trip to Siena today. But, this morning I woke up to the sound of rain. I admit I was a little disappointed, but not much would prevent me from visiting Siena as it's one of my favorite Tuscan cities to visit.

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A dear friend of mine told me last year that I could ordinare una messa (order a mass) for my parents who had passed away a few years ago. She told me that there were two churches that allow people to ordinare una messa for the defunti (deceased). The first one, Santissima Annunziata, was right next to where I used to live last year. I went there at least ten times, but could never get the attention of anyone who worked there. The idea faded in my mind and then last week it came back, and I decided to do something about it.

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Today I went to the Mostra internazionale dell'Artigianato with a new girlfriend of mine. I love artigianato (handicrafts), which is the slogan for this year's mostra (show). I am always amazed by the beautiful objects that these artists create and share with the world. I look forward to this mostra every year.

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This morning I was sitting in Piazza Strozzi waiting for a good friend of mine so we could have a coffee. The sun was out, but I was sitting in the shade on the cement lip of the palazzo. The weather has been warming up, and at 10 this morning I was comfortable sitting outside. I began to write in my notebook while I was waiting and a zingara (gypsy) carrying a baby came to ask me for money. "Per favore, una monetina. (Please, a coin.)" I ignored her and kept writing. I pretended that she wasn't there and after a few tries, she stopped addressing me and just sat down about a foot away from me.

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Living in Florence :: Chiesa di Ognissanti

This morning I had to go to the Azienda USL di Firenze, which is Florence's healthcare office, to renew my healthcare tessera (card). The tessera allows me to get free healthcare in Italy, but mine expired last year with my previous permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay). A friend of mine had to come as well to sign up and get her tessera, so we decided to go together and turn it into something fun and interesting to do.

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Living in Florence :: Museo del Bigallo

My plan for today was to just go to the comune (city hall) to drop off my notarized autocertificazione (self-declaration) and see my girlfriend Haruko for lunch. My plans always feel a bit loose as I'm happy changing them and adapting to whatever comes up. At noon, we still hadn't decided on where to go or where to meet. I called up Haruko and we decided on going to Osir, which is my favorite Chinese restaurant in Florence, because I hadn't been in a long time and she hadn't yet been.

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Living in Florence :: Transcribing my marriage in Italy

After many visits to the comune earlier this year and one visit to an empty office on Monday, I finally got an answer about our certificato di matrimonio (marriage certificate) this last Tuesday. I found out that it arrived on March 10th from the Italian Consulate in the States, but had not yet been trascritto (transcribed).

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After coming back from Thailand, I had secretly hoped that the weather would be warmer when we returned to Florence. I was thinking that by the middle of April, the temperatures would be a bit higher here, but lately it's been only about 10 to 13C (50 to 56F).

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Living in Florence :: Solidarity

On the front of the Palazzo Vecchio is a large red gonfalone (banner) that says, "Human Rights in Tibet." A friend of mine told me it was there and I had to take a walk this evening to see it for myself. As I stood in Piazza della Signoria I wondered who thought of printing it and displaying it in front of the Palazzo Vecchio above the Giglio di Firenze (Florentine Lily) and below the flags for Europe, Italy and Florence.

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The first thing I noticed during my first stroll through Florence wasn't the tourists, but the zingari (gypsies). When we were on the train from Rome, I had overheard an Italian woman talk about how there were a lot of zingari. I tend to not see them, but today, it seemed that they were everywhere I went.

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After a flight to Bangkok from Krabi, we waited until 3 a.m. before our plane arrived from Taiwan to take it direct to Rome. We ate our last meal at the airport and said good-bye to Thailand for now. We arrived in Rome on time and rushed to the express train to take us to the main train station in Rome. Within an hour, we were on our Eurostar to Florence.

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Living in Florence :: Leaving Krabi

After being in Krabi for almost two weeks, I began to get used to going to the beach, seeing the water, going on excursions, eating Thai food, and walking around the streets of this seaside town. It wasn't until last Saturday that I truly missed Florence. I was changing the memory card in my camera and saw a film that I took of the scoppio del carro (explosion of the cart) on Easter Sunday in front of the Duomo. Suddenly, I felt a pang in my heart and missed Florence so much that I couldn't wait to get back. I was thinking about how I wanted to see the buildings, the streets, the people, the monuments, and the churches.

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