by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Day trip to Bologna

I hadn't been to Bologna since my first extended trip to Italy in 1996. A lot of my friends have told me how beautiful it is and I remember having quite fond memories of my visit. We were trying to think of a place to go that wasn't far from Florence and since my sister and her family have already visited a lot of Tuscany other times, Rome, Cinque Terre, and Venice, so we decided to go to Emilia-Romagna for a small change.

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Yesterday we took a flight back to Pisa. I usually never take the train from Pisa to Florence only because I like that we don't stop and that it's very comfortable. For the first time, it was actually completely full; one girl had to sit in the front where staff people generally sit. I felt excited about returning to Florence during the trip and just couldn't help but look out the window.

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Today was the best day I had in Paris. I was able to spend the day with my eight-year old niece alone. It was such a treat to take her around the city and spend some time with her. She's one of the people I truly miss the most, and I'm trying to spend as much time with her as I can while she's here visiting me.

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Living in Florence :: My old neighborhood in Paris

Today, I met up with one of my best friends at a restaurant on Avenue de la Grande Armée, which is a large avenue that heads toward La Défense from the Arc de Triomphe. I arrived a little early after taking the métro, so I sat on a park bench to take in the city. I used to cross the Champs Elysées quite often and never really noticed all the cars, scooters (which are new since I lived here), motorcycles, and trucks. The sounds of the city are deafening: horns honking, breaks screeching, and sirens blaring. A few people walked by, but not many were talking.

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Living in Florence :: Le Musée Marmottan

No visit to Paris is ever complete without seeing the Eiffel tower. We were planning on taking the elevator up to the second and possibly third level, but the wait was too long this afternoon, so we just walked up to it and then walked to Trocadéro, where I took this photo. Before going to the Eiffel tower, we visited the Musée Marmottan in the 16th.

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Living in Florence :: Le Musée National Picasso

On our first weekday here in Paris, we had to plan out our museums because some are closed on Mondays and the Louvre on Tuesdays. Le Musée National Picasso is my second favorite in Paris. I try to always go when I come to Paris, and each time I am amazed how talented and prolific Picasso was.

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Living in Florence :: Le Musée Rodin

One thing I'd love to import from Paris is that most museums are free on the first Sunday of the month. For the first time, after three days of rain, we had clear, blue skies. It wasn't terribly warm, but we were happy that the sun was out so that we wouldn't have to drag our umbrellas around with us.

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Living in Florence :: Dinner with friends from Florence

Today it was a bit cold and rainy in Paris when we woke up. It felt like we were back in Florence as the mild weather we were welcomed with had simply evaporated. I made plans before we left Florence to meet up with Steve and Susan who lived in Florence last year until they moved to Paris.

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After a long bus ride to Pisa and a short flight to Orly Sud, we're in Paris. I think it's been about two and a half years since I've been back. We're meeting with my sister, brother-in-law, and neice on Friday, but we arrived early so that I could see some old friends before we visit the city.

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Last night Dave and I took two of our friends to Canapone for dinner. It was cold enough that we had to walk quickly to my friend Simone's restaurant. I saw Simone at the palestra (gym) the day before and told him to reserve a table for us. He said it was perfect timing because he just changed the menu. I'm always excited to go when he changes the menu because I get to taste his new creations.

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Tucked behind via Calzaiuoli is a small bar called, Caffè Italiano, in via Condotta. I've been a few times for a quick espresso, but today my friend Sarah suggested that we go to fare due chiacchiere (chat). We walked past the bar, stealing a look at the dolci (desserts) on the counter, and headed up the stairs. We found a table next to the window where we could watch catch a glimpse of people walking by in via Condotta.

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I had no idea how much my "freelance" lifestyle is so deeply ingrained in me. I have been going to the palestra (gym) pretty much since we arrived, but I keep paying only one or three months at a time. I've gone to two different palestre, but still wouldn't commit to one year.

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Yesterday we went to our first partita (soccer match). I was hoping that my first partita would be to see La Fiorentina, our beloved Florentine team. But, it was to see another level of La Fiorentina team with young boys who were born in 1996. My friend Debora's boyfriend, Paolo, is an allenatore (coach) for a Tuscan team and were playing against La Fiorentina.

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This past week we've had warmer weather than usual here in Florence. A few mornings this week, I was able to sit out on our terrazza (terrace) to enjoy the sun. I often take a peek at the top of the Duomo to see how many people are up there to get an idea of how busy the centro storico (historical downtown area) might be. I also look out onto the piazza and examine how everyone is dressed to get a feel for the weather before I go outside.

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Today, Simone invited me to have pranzo (lunch) with him at his place. I was happy that we finally had a chance to talk as it's difficult when I go to his restaurant for dinner or when I pass by the restaurant while he's prepping for dinner. I was even happier when he told me that he'd make me lunch at his place. I've been to his place before for lunch, but not since we moved to Florence and were living in his apartment.

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