by Melinda Gallo

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 Cibrčo. 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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Today, I would've rather stayed home and listened to the rain fall on the rooftop while I worked on my computer. But, instead I had to go to an appointment that I scheduled the week before. When I got outside, I noticed that my 2 Euro umbrella, which someone bought for me a few months ago, was broken. It was raining enough that I had to keep using it. I felt like a bag lady with this torn umbrella in my hand. I walked with the broken part behind me, at least I couldn't see it.

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I watched "The Queen" at the Odeon last night. I had wanted to see it for awhile, and was disappointed that I missed it when it played there last year. I was living in England before coming to Florence in 1997. Before heading down to Italy, I went to Lyon, France for a friend's wedding. I had to then take a train back to Paris before taking the TGV to Florence. I took a taxi through the tunnel where Princess Diana's fatal car accident had occurred only less than 24 hours earlier. And, the next morning when I had to take another taxi to go back to the Gare de Lyon, I was taken yet again past the accident site.

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Living in Florence :: Affreschi sul muro

Sprinkled around town are numerous affreschi sul muro (frescoes on the wall), or "Madonna spots" as I call them, on corners of buildings. I have noticed that of the ones that I like, the Madonna is always present. I have, however, a few favorites, like the one on via degli Alfani at the corner of Borgo Pinti, which is shown here in a picture I took of it today. I used to walk past it to go to my old Internet Point on via degli Alfani, but now I walk past it once in awhile when I go toward Santa Croce or to the palestra (gym).

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I know quite a few expatriates who live in Florence now, and the one question that they generally have a hard time answering is why they came to Florence in the first place. Some people found love, got married, created families, and never left, but many others like myself came alone (as I did back in 1997) and found themselves not wanting to leave.

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I went to see my new naturopata (naturopath) yesterday because I wanted to get a few cromopuntura (colorpuncture) treatments, which is basically agopuntura (acupuncture) with light instead of needles. I had tried agopuntura and benefitted from it greatly, but knowing that I was going to get needles poked in me stressed me out each time. A friend of mine told me to go see her agopunturista (acupuncturist), but when she explained that the average number of needles she had at any one time was 30, I almost fainted. My agopunturista never put more than 10 in me at a time.

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