by Melinda Gallo

I went to the Camera di Commercio (Chamber of Commerce) this morning to see another friend's friend who works in the Ufficio arbitrato (Arbitration office) to have a look at my contratto di locazione (rental agreement) that I signed for my current apartment. I was told that it's not legal to not have a disdetta (notice to leave) on it and that quite possibly, it might be null and void.

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I have a valid permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay) and want to change it to another type: lavoro autonomo (self-employment). I had been reading about the decreto flussi (quota agreement) and how supposedly in Florence, they only allow about 80 Americans to convert their permessi di soggiorno per year. The problem is that no one knows when the decreto flussi will be published, not even the ufficcio dell'immigrazione (immigration office).

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Living in Florence :: Walking along the Arno

Today I had to go to the American Consulate to get a document notarized. I took the bus to via della Vigna Nuova and walked along the Arno. I usually always walk, but one day I took the number 6 bus and it went down via della Vigna Nuova, so I figured it'd be more convenient to take it. Unfortunately, there were a few manifestazioni (manifestations) in town and the bus was late. I waited at least 20 minutes for it to come, and in that time, I probably could've walked to the American Consulate.

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Today I went to see my dottoressa (doctor) again to ask her a few questions. I arrived at the door of her studio (office) and there was alreaady a couple waiting outside. The women I walked past downstairs were waiting as well to see the dottoressa. A blonde woman asked each of us, "Quando è il suo appuntamento?" (When is your appointment?) After we all responded, the blonde woman told us the order in which we will see the dottoressa. I ended up being the second to the last before the blonde woman.

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I have had the pleasure of meeting more girls lately who have moved to Florence and want to stay. It seems to be the usual story: the person arrives in Florence for a short time, falls in love with the city, and can't leave it. Florence seems to just take a hold of our hearts and souls and we become obsessed with staying here. I know because that's what happened to me the first time I arrived in 1997. I think it took me about three or four days before I knew I did not want to leave.

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Tonight I went with a few Florentine friends to Le Carceri for dinner. Supposedly the giocatori della Fiorentina (players on the Florentine soccer team) go there. The locale (restaurant/place) is located in an ex-prison just off of via dell'Agnolo.

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Living in Florence :: Una grandinata estiva

We've had a rather dry and mild winter this year. It was so dry that people were talking about rationing water to the point of having it be turned off at certain times of the day. But, today that might have all changed as it rained and hailed for many hours. I tried to show how hard and vertical the rain and hail were falling in my picture of the buildings across the street, but it might not be that clear.

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My new ginecologa (gynecologist) gave me a stack of esami (tests) to do because I am new to her and she said that I need to check everything to make sure everything is OK. I'm assuming she was referring to my age again, but I agree that if I haven't done a major check-up, I probably should.

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Living in Florence :: Simone's simulation cooking class

I have told Simone for many years that he needs to do lezioni di cucina (cooking classes). First, because he's an exceptional chef and second, because I wanted to learn more about Tuscan cooking and find out his secrets. We decided last week when he came to my place for lunch that we were going to organize a lezione di cucina at his apartment with a few people. I invited two of my girlfriends (Sarah and Haruko) and he invited a girl visiting from Belgium, Margherita.

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Today was one of those days I have to write about so that even I can look back on more than once. From start to finish, it was a spectacular day. I met up with Emma Bird and Mario Berri from How To Italy because they were in the area for a conference. I took them too Gilli for a caffè (coffee) in Piazza Repubblica.

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Living in Florence :: Che spettacolo!

I walked over to via delle Oche to have lunch with my new girlfriend. She wanted to take me to Coquinarius, which I like a lot. Afterwards, she invited me up to her apartment. I love seeing other people's apartments especially since I feel as if I've seen so many now. I was taken aback when I walked into the living room: the Duomo was so close that I couldn't see it all unless I walked out to her her balcone (balcony). I had never seen the Duomo this close before except when I went up the campanile (bell tower).

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Simone wants me to work on his restaurant's website, so we decided to meet up today for a lunch meeting. He came over to my apartment because he doesn't have a computer or Internet at his place. The plan was for him to pick us up some take-away sushi from a new place that just opened up on via Ghibellina, and come over. There are now three of them in centro (downtown), which pales in comparison to number of kebab places that seem to be opening up all over town.

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Tonight, I was brought over to my friend's friend's house at around 9:30PM. I thought we were just going for a visit, but we arrived right when they were about to sit down to eat. Since we hadn't yet eaten either, they invited us to eat with them. I was embarrassed about coming over empty handed, but they made us both feel comfortable.

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Since Saturday, the weather has cooled down drastically. It had been so hot here that we were all afraid that it would only get worse. And then on Saturday, the weather turned. It began to cool off in the evening and I had to shut the windows in my apartment. When we had our impromptu dinner, we came in early because it was too cold.

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One thing I have learned about living in Italy is that people enter and exit my life at an amazing speed. When I had moved back to Italy in 2004, two of my closest girlfriends left Florence and went back to their hometowns in southern Italy within a few months. Since I've been here, I have met many Americans who come to live in Florence for a specific period of time, like six months to a year. It's great to meet them, go out with them, and become close, but it is always sad when they leave.

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