by Melinda Gallo

After a brief visit at the Paperback Exchange on via delle Oche where I perused a few books that I have been wanting to buy, I walked down via dello Studio toward the Duomo. A crowd of young Japanese students walked toward me chatting gaily among themselves. I felt happy just to walk past them as I could feel their excitement ad possibly even wonder for my beloved city.

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My commercialista (public accountant) just emailed me to tell me that I have a Partita IVA (VAT account). Her email said, "Benvenuta tra i professionisti italiani! (Welcome among the Italian professionals!)" She also sent me a schema della fattura (invoice example) so that I would all the information that my fattura is supposed to contain.

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After days and days of continual rain with a few intermittent breaks, the water in the Arno river has risen. At night when there aren't many cars out, I can hear the light brownish green water as it crashes on the cement reef under the Ponte alle Grazie. The rain falling down light and then heavy from the light grey sky above only accentuates the luscious green hillside and bright yellow, beige, and white buildings across the river from me.

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As the sun peeked through the persiane (shutters) this morning, I knew it was going to be a fabulous day. Sundays are always my favorites. It's the day I get to lounge around in my pajamas and sip my coffee while I write and read all morning long. It's also the day that I get to eat lunch with my suoceri (in-laws).

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I'm sure I'm like everybody else that I saw this morning at the Questura (Police station): hopeful and yet not that excited to be there. I arrived at 8:30 a.m. after riding my bici (bike) there. It was cloudy and I just hoped it wouldn't rain on me because it's not a short ride back home afterwards. I stood outside with about thirty other people to get a number. We were slowly let into the entrance to talk to a poliziotto (police officer) to know which letter we were supposed to select from the machine to get the correct number for our situation.

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I have been waiting for today with much impatience that I was eager to jump out of bed at 7 a.m. Ever since I made the appuntamento (appointment) a few weeks ago with the woman at the Ufficio della cittadinanza (citizenship office) of the Questura (police station), I've been wondering what the colloquio (interview/conversation) would be about. She told me that it was a formalitą (formality), but I kept wondering if I could say something that would hurt my chances of getting my cittadinanza italiana.

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This morning I woke up to a beautiful sunny sky with mild temperatures, around 12°C (53°F). The past few days it has been cloudy and grey, so when the sun was shining brightly, I felt happier and couldn't wait to go outside. I walked to the mercato (market), chatted with my friends who work there, and bought some fresh vegetables, fruits, bread, and meat.

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Today is the Epifania (Epiphany) and is mostly a holiday celebrated for for children who usually dress up in costumes, throw confetti, and either receive candy or carbone (coal) depending on whether they have been good or bad. In my Italian family, there aren't any young children, but it was just a good excuse to have a wonderful lunch together.

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I've had my cellphone with TIM (Telecom Italia) for over three years. Last year, Alessandro and I decided on changing companies and we were told that we could keep our old numbers and transfer them to our new phones. It sounded simple enough, so we filled out the moduli (forms) back in June and waited for our phone numbers to be transferred. Alessandro waited only a few weeks and I am still waiting.

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Today I had my appointment with my new commercialista (public accountant). I was so impressed with her during our last meeting that I told her that I wanted to work with her and get my partita IVA (VAT account) right away at the beginning of the new year. The only catch is that I'm in limbo right now in Italy. My permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay) has expired and I'm waiting for my certificato di matrimonio (marriage certificate) to be translated and sent to the Comune (town hall). And, I filed for Italian citizenship through my nonni (grandparents) and I am waiting to hear back.

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Living in Florence :: My two loves

Yesterday, Alessandro and I planned on taking a day off and spending it together. At first we thought of going somewhere else in Tuscany, but then decided on touring Florence for the day. We made flexible plans for the day, but there were a few things I truly wanted to do that I had never done before in Florence. The weather was rather cooperative even though the temperatures hovered around 4°C (39°F) for most of the day.

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This morning I woke up to Alessandro's mother cooking lunch in the kitchen. His father was already out on a bike ride and Alessandro was at work. I walked into the kitchen and sat down while his mother attended to me by making me a caffč latte even though I said I could do it myself. She wanted me to eat some panettone (sweet bread containing candied fruit and raisins) or open up the pandoro (sweet bread) for breakfast, but my stomach hadn't woken up yet. We talked about what we did after we left their house last night a little after midnight and I suddenly realized that I have a new family.

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I was looking across the Arno today and noticing the many trees without leaves. I suddenly remembered how, when I moved into my apartment in August, the trees were covered with leaves. This year for me has been full of changes. I have had to let go of many dreams and hopes, which has in turn allowed me to embrace new dreams and hopes. Had I not been willing to let go of what I had, I wouldn't have what I am enjoying now in my life. And, I have learned once again that life is all about accepting its flow of what and who exits my life as well as what and who enters it.

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Living in Florence :: Due panini per uno

"Due panini per uno (Two sandwiches for one)," Alessandro said to me today as I was walking toward the mercato (market). I asked him why he wanted a panino and he told me that we can go to the Cascine, a park on the other side of town, where we could have a picnic. And, because it was a nice day, it sounded like a great idea.

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This morning we woke up to a peaceful city with the campane (bells) of a few churches nearby ringing. When I looked out the window, there were very few cars passing by. And, without buses running today, it seemed even quieter.

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