by Melinda Gallo

For the last two and a half months, I've had to carry around two cellphones. And, not out of choice. Alessandro and I signed new contracts with the mobile telephone company named 3. He was able to keep his old cellphone number that he had with WIND and transfer it to the new telephone. I put in my request at the same time and TIM has not granted me the right to keep my telephone number with my new cellphone provider.

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A little more than two months later and my interview in A Place in the Sun has appeared in the October 2007 issue. I haven't read the interview yet, but my friend Narinder was kind enough to go to his local newsstand in England and purchase a few copies for me.

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The street below my apartment that goes along the Arno river was packed this morning with cars, motorini (scooters), vans, trucks, buses, and bicycles. The tourists and other pedestrians walk single-file along the narrow sidewalk toward as well as away from the Ponte Vecchio.

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I used to think that having a routine would be boring. I thought I needed to have so much freedom that I could be free to decide what I'd be doing at every moment of my day. But, I have come to realize that I crave routines. I like writing my morning pages every day, going to the gym a few times a week, running outside in the morning, and my Sunday lunches with Alessandro's parents.

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Today was another morning that I went outside to run some errands. I used to never do much in the morning, but it's been so hot lately that it's the only way to survive. I left the house a little after 9AM to get my impronte digitali (fingerprints) for my cittadinanza italiana (Italian citizenship). Because the local questura (police station) is only open to the public in the mornings three days a week, I decided to go to the main questura in via Zara.

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When I left the house this morning, I noticed something very different: the city was bursting at the seams. I couldn't help but notice that a lot of people had returned from their holidays this weekend. From last week to this week, it seems as if the city suddenly woke up. Shops in via dei Neri that were closed were now open, there were more people in the streets speaking Italian, and cars and motorini (scooters) were all around me while I was riding my bike through the city.

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I think that one of the reasons that I love living in Italy is that I am constantly learning new things. When I was in England and I had to choice of returning to France where I felt at home for six years or to go somewhere else, I opted for a new country. I had wanted to learn Italian for years and just felt that I had finally arrived at the right moment in my life to do so. I was single and working freelance already so nothing was in my way.

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One thing that I have learned is that I should never let anything stop me because there is more than one way to achieve a goal. I was pretty upset when I was told by the Italian consulate in the US last February that I did not qualify for Italian citizenship because my nonno (grandfather) was an American citizen when my father was born. The other day while looking for information about the requirements for renewing my permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay) I found that I might still qualify for Italian citizenship.

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A little past 7:30PM today, there was a ring at my campanello (doorbell). I usually don't answer my door unless I know someone is coming over. I popped open the window and looked down to see a man standing there with a small stack of papers. I yelled down to him, "Sì? (Yes?)" "Gallo?" he asked. I knew it couldn't be a delivery because I wasn't expecting anything. He told me he was from the polizia (police). "Viene su? (Are you coming up?)," I said. He said he wasn't coming up, but that I needed to come down. "Mi porti anche un documento per favore. (Please also bring a document.)"

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Living in Florence :: Lunch in Prato

Bari and I had decided the other day that we would take a train ride to Prato to have lunch. Neither one of us has ever been to the centro (downtown area) of Prato and thought it would be fun. I told Alessandro of our plans and he said, "Che ci fate a Prato?" (What are you going to do in Prato?) I explained to him that because they have such a high population of Chinese, we thought it'd be fun to go there to eat at a Chinese restaurant. Most Florentines seem to consider it a place not worthy of visiting, but we were determined.

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Living in Florence :: My newest love

I had tried to eat fresh fichi (figs) last year and bought a few. I must not have picked well because I didn't like them at all. I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. I've had dried fichi, which I like quite a bit, but the fresh ones didn't seem like much to me. This last Wednesday, I went to Alessandro's parent's house for lunch and his mom put out some fichi for me to take home. I ate one to be polite while I was at their house, and finished all the other ones they gave me as soon as I got home.

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Living in Florence :: Slowing down

For the past month or so, I've been busy with work, getting settled into my new apartment, and worrying about which path to follow for staying in Italy legally. So, today it was wonderful to finally take in my city again with a girlfriend of mine. I felt as if I hadn't been able to enjoy my city except when I look out the window at the Arno during the day.

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This city this morning was incredibly quiet. I heard only one car go by before I got out of bed. Alessandro and I ran along the Arno and then a small stretch in San Niccolò. We saw very few cars driving around, and hardly anyone was walking in the streets either. I crossed Ponte Vecchio alone while he ran on to the next ponte (bridge). This time I wasn't alone, the tourists were enjoying the city and snapping photos.

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My avvocato (lawyer) promised me last Friday morning that he'd call me on Monday. He told me that he was going to fissare un appuntamento (make an appointment) with a woman at the Questura (police department) to get a nullaosta (permission/permit) from her so that I can request a new visto (visa). Unfortunately, he hasn't called me and this being ferragosto (mid-August holiday), he probably won't contact me until next week.

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Since I've been working freelance for the past 6 years, I rarely take any days off without my computer. Any time I am at home is time that I could spend working on my client's projects. But, today I decided it'd be good to take a full day off from work since Alessandro wanted to go and visit his friends in Corno alle Scale.

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