by Melinda Gallo

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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Living in Florence :: My first Italian cooking class

I love to cook, or more precisely, I love to eat and therefore I was obliged to learn how to cook to satisfy my love of food. I had never taken a cooking class before because my mother and grandmother taught me everything I know. My grandmother would make my favorite dishes, like Chinese tomato beef curry and chow fun noodles with beef in black bean sauce without using a recipe. My mother, on the other hand, taught me all about baking and making pastries, which is much more precise: everything has to be measured carefully and done exactly as it's written.

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When I opened my bank account here, I told the woman that I wanted a checkbook. "Non ne hai bisogno. Nessun accetta assegni." (You don't need it. No one accepts checks.), she said. And then, when I ordered some rimedi omeopatici (homeopathic remedies), I found out that the guy doesn't accept credit cards and didn't want a check, but he told me to go to Le Poste (the Post Office) and send him a vaglia (postal order).

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Living in Florence :: New month, new hair, and a new attitude

I dragged myself out of the house today to get a spuntata (trim) at my parrucchiere (hairdresser's). I walked past the San Marco church and took a picture of it now that the scaffolding has been finally removed. I forgot how beautiful it really is. We've had some strange weather here lately. On Tuesday we had a bright and warm sun out, and then Wednesday the temperatures dropped drastically. Today, it was mild outside, but not as sunny as I was hoping.

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Today started as a bad day. Had I known how it would turn out, I would've just stayed in bed; however, nothing would have changed. When I saw the email from the Italian consulate in my In Box, I had a bad feeling. And, unfortunately, I was right. I found out that I'm not eligible for Italian citizenship because my father's father obtained American citizenship before my father was born. I did receive a document from the INS that stated he claimed his American citizenship in 1947 (after my father's birth), but supposedly he was granted citizenship in 1901 when he was 9 years old.

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Most people would have kissed their lost package good-bye if it hadn't arrived within a few weeks of it being sent from the US. My sister sent me a package on November 24th last year along with one for my husband. His arrived within about 10 days right after we moved into our new place. For a few days, I wondered if I didn't put the sign on the door early enough with our name, but usually, they leave a note anyway downstairs above the mailboxes for at least a week. Besides, packages take at least a week to get here usually.

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I receive an Italian word every day via email from Zanichelli, an Italian publisher of dictionaries. The words are usually quite interesting and always come with at least one example as well as a brief history of the word as well. Today's word of the day was americanata, which obviously comes from americano/a (American).

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I didn't really think that I missed the mercato (market) that much until I went yesterday. I've been so happy with Esselunga's delivery service that I haven't made the 10 minute walk to the mercato since the end of last year. I have absolutely no complaints about Esselunga, but I do miss the milling around the mercato and being tempted to buy everything that looks delicious.

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Living in Florence :: Quinta edizione del carnevale fiorentino nel mondo

Venice has its elegant and sophisticated carnevale (carnival) and Brazil has its wild and extravagant carnevale, but Florence has made its mark with its international carnevale. Dave and I walked to Piazza Repubblica to catch a glimpse of the carnevale parade. We stood along via degli Strozzi for at least an hour and a half with many other people to watch all the participants.

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For some reason, I have been awaiting the end of the Chinese year of the Dog as if to find some respite even though I haven't had a particularly bad year. It might also have been because I met with a Tibetan sciamana (shaman) last year along with her Italian interpreter who told me that nothing good will happen for me until 2007, in the anno del maiale (year of the pig). The pig is the symbol of fortuna e abbondanza (fortune and abundance) and it's also the maiale d'oro (golden pig), which is supposedly even better.

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Living in Florence :: Long, but good day

Today started out early for us. We got up and left the house at 8:45AM. Our first stop was the Questura to pick up our permessi di soggiorno (permits to stay). We had dropped off our applications back in October, but the wait was two months, and the agente (police officer) told us to come back at the beginning of the new year.

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I've been working as an independent web developer/designer for many years and have not considered working for a company as an employee. After we got our new apartment, the proprietario (owner) of our place wrote me an email to tell me that he spoke to a friend of his who is a partner in a web agency in Florence. He sent me his email and told me to contact another guy at his company for work.

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Usually I go to a private laboratorio (lab) to when I need to get a esame del sangue (blood test). My friend Sara always goes to a public laboratorio, so I decided to do that this time. My doctor told me it was less expensive as all I have to do is pay a ticket. When I asked the guy at the farmacia a little over a year ago about where to go for a esame del sangue, he made the public laboratorio sound quite horrible, so I was a little afraid to go.

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Tonight we met up with a friend of mine from California, Heather, her fiancé Chris, and their friends at Cibrèo. Heather and Chris have just moved to Paris for a year and their friends, Chris and Mara, were passing through after spending some time in Vienna. Florence seemed like a great place to meet and I was happy they made the stop here, so I could see Heather and meet her fiancé and friends.

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