by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Weekend in Venice

A little before nine this morning, I was on a train heading for Venice. My friend Jill lives there and invited me to come up for the weekend. It is the first time that I have gone anywhere alone in a long time, so I was really looking forward to it. Venice is one of my favorite cities in Italy and I hadn't been in at least a year if not two.

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Living in Florence :: Enchanted with the Arno

I am fortunate enough to sit at my desk and look out at the Arno from my window. Much of the time, I just glance at the Arno when I'm not looking at my computer. At other times, I look up at the Arno and contemplate its color: sometimes it's a murky green and other times a darker grey. A few hours ago, I was working on my computer and when I looked up, I was enchanted by all the colors. I felt impelled to grab my camera and take a picture.

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While we were on vacation, my avvocato (lawyer) called me to tell me that even if I get a new visto, I will still have to wait for the decreto flussi (quota agreement) and hope that I can fit into the small number allocated to Americans. Last year's decreto flussi was already full, so I'll have to wait for this year's decreto flussi. No one really knows when they will come out although I did hear that possibly they will be announced this month.

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Living in Florence :: Bella Napoli

Our first taste of Naples was sweet. Alessandro's friends showed us the view from above and carted us around to the cleaner areas. I was dying to see what the other side of Naples looked like. The Naples that I feared and resisted. The first thing we did was walk next door to the Museo Cappella Sansevero (Sansevero Chapel Museum) where we saw "The Veiled Christ."

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Living in Florence :: First day in Naples

We didn't initially plan on visiting Naples. I had always wanted to go to Naples, but never wanted to go alone. I had heard so much about Naples, and not much very positive, that I tended to think it wasn't a place that I would like to visit. And, after our quick taxi ride from the train station to the porto (harbor/port) earlier in the week, I didn't think I'd like it at all: it seemed dirty and chaotic.

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Living in Florence :: Visiting Capri for the day

We were up early this morning so that we could take an aliscafo (hydrofoil) to Capri. We were planning on going to Procida, but we heard so much about Capri that we figured we should go there. By 8:30AM, there was a large group of people standing on the porto (harbor/port) to board the aliscafo. As soon as they were ready for us to board, everyone pushed forward and tried to get on as quickly as possible. I got pushed ahead of Alessandro and sat down as soon as I could to wait for him.

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Living in Florence :: Castello Aragonese

Alessandro and I took the bus to Ischia Porto from Casamicciola today. We wanted to tour as much of Ischia as we could and decided on starting with Ischia Porto. I bought a guidebook before we arrived in Ischia, but I don't like to read up too much beforehand. I like to know a minimum of what there is to see. For me, it is more about visiting what there is to see, learning more about the place when I am there, and appreciating it. If I study too much, I tend to have a different idea of a place and might end up getting disappointed.

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Living in Florence :: Terme Negombro

When Alessandro told me that Ischia was famous for its terme (thermal spas), I couldn't wait. It's not like we don't have any terme in Tuscany, but I've been wanting to go for a long time. A girlfriend of mine goes quite often and keeps telling me how wonderful they are. This morning, after I did some work, we hopped on a bus to go to Terme Negombo, which is located to the west of Casamicciola.

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Living in Florence :: A few days in Casamicciola

Alessandro and I have been planning to go away somewhere for a few months now. We first thought of going to Portugal, and then we thought of Sardinia. In the end, we decided on Casamicciola, which is a town that is located on the north part of Ischia off the coast of Naples. I had never been south of Naples except to a conference in Sorrento, and I couldn't wait. Especially since most of my friends took off in August.

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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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