by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Mario Biondi singing under the stars

I hadn't heard of Mario Biondi until only a few months ago. I had heard his most popular song, "This Is What You Are" on the radio and imagined some newly discovered American R&B singer. But when Alessandro brought over one of his CDs and I listened to it, I was surprised that the he was Italian because his voice was so deep and soulful, a bit like Barry White's, and he sang in impeccable English.

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For almost a month I have been a bit worried about changing my permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay). I had seen my avvocato (lawyer) almost a month ago and he told me that we'd be going to the Camera di Commercio (Chamber of Commerce) the next week. I called him a few times to no avail, and then he called me yesterday to say that I was supposed to meet him today at the Camera di Commercio at 11AM.

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As part of the FITC Creative Campus here in Florence, Mitch Ryan was present for an aperitivo (apéritif) at the Paperback Exchange to perform a few pieces and to discuss his career. Bari Hochwald and Aaron Craig, the two co-artistic directors and founders of FITC, have created a Creative Campus here in Florence to promote the positive side of the American culture here.

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I had already been invited to pranzo (lunch) at Alessandro's parent's house, but today was the first time I was invited alone. I wasn't too worried about it because they are really nice to me. Since we have met, I have talked to his mother quite a bit and called her to thank her for sending me food and fresh uova (eggs) through Alessandro.

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Living in Florence :: Matrimonio civile al Palazzo Vecchio

The last time I attended a matrimonio civile (civil wedding) at the Palazzo Vecchio was about ten years ago when my friends Tom and Erica came to Florence to get married. I was one of their testimoni (witnesses) because at the time, they were living in Paris and I had just moved to Florence only a month prior.

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I used to think that having a car was a bit overrated. They are absolutely necessary in California: you can't go to the grocery store without a car even if it's around the corner. In Florence, I'm completely happy walking around and I'm able to get everywhere I want without any problems. However, when Alessandro took me to a restaurant above Bagno a Ripoli, in a place called Rimaggio, I started to think that having a car would be nice: I'd be able to admire my beloved city from afar as well.

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There are two schools of thought when it comes to picking up the local accent. Some people think it's normal while others think it's abnormal. I tend to believe it's normal. If it weren't, why would children who have parents who speak with an accent still pick up the local accent. And some people are just sponges when it comes to learning languages, like Madonna who now has a bit of a British accent.

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I haven't been in the US for at least three years to celebrate Independence Day. I always associate this festa (holiday) with having friends and family over for a barbecue, so when my friend Sarah proposed that we have a party, I thought it would be a great idea. The only problem was that because it's not festa here in Italy, our American friends were mostly busy, so we ended up cancelling our barbecue.

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Living in Florence :: Cena della prova generale

Alessandro and I went to Siena last night for the cena della prova generale (dinner for the trials) of the Palio di Siena. I had never been to see the Palio before and was eager to finally see some part of it. I had been to Siena right before the Palio when the campo was filled with dirt, but never with so many people there like in my photo.

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Living in Florence :: An inter-religious dialogue

It wasn't until I was waiting for my girlfriend in front of Saschall that I realized that I don't often go to an event outside of centro (downtown). I felt like the girls in that Sex and the City episode when they took the ferry out of town to go to a party. It's not that far out of centro, but it's not that close where I could walk to it either. My friend had to take a bus to get there while Alessandro's father drove me since I had lunch at their house, which wasn't too far away.

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Living in Florence :: Star sighting in Florence

As someone who lives in Florence, I actually end up not noticing the tourists much. I see large groups of people walking down the street or stopping to look up at something, and I go around them. I don't generally look at them that closely; however, I do notice the locals in Florence instead for some reason. I can always recognize someone who works in a shop or goes to my palestra (gym) when I'm in centro (downtown).

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Living in Florence :: One beautiful, but busy piazza

My piazza isn't normally that busy, but this morning when I looked out from the terrazza (terrace) I saw a bunch of actors sitting on the steps in front of the Ospedale degli Innocenti all dressed up. It was raining a little bit, so it looked like they were waiting it out. Later in the afternoon when I had to go out, I took this picture from the first floor window of my building.

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Alessandro's car is in the shop again and so a friend of his loaned him his motorino (scooter). I rode on the back of the motorino to go to the movies at Warner Village on Friday. It's been fairly hot in centro (downtown), but once we were out past Le Cascine, the air seemed to be much cooler. It was refreshing until we had to drive back to town because my teeth were chattering.

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After many discussions, I have finally signed my contratto di locazione (rental contract) with my new landlord yesterday at my place. I didn't invite my agente immobiliare (real estate agent) because of what happened the last time with the contratto di locazione that I signed.

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