by Melinda Gallo

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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Because Dave and I speak English together all the time, there are some things that I don't know the name of because the words don't come up in conversation. The other day, I was asking Simone if he had my glass rectangular dish. I called it a piatto in vetro (glass dish), like I would say in English. He couldn't find it at his place, so I then proceeded to explain it some more by mentioning that it was rectangular. "Ah," he said, "Vuoi dire un pirofilo!" (You mean a glass rectangular dish!)

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Living in Florence :: Fiera del cioccolato artigianale

For the first time since we've been here, we finally made it to the annual Fiera del cioccolato artigianale. It's always held down the Arno river toward Firenze Sud, so it's not convenient for people like us who have no car, so we haven't been that motivated to go in the past. Two of our friends wanted to meet us there this afternoon, so we finally had firm plans to go.

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It seems the more we live here, the harder it is to just visit a museum. We have many things to do and enjoy each day, like work and going out with our friends. And sometimes we're so busy, we don't think of visiting them either. After getting my new tessera (membership card) from the Amici degli Uffizi yesterday, I felt very inspired to go to a museum, so I did.

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I have tried to renew my annual tessera (membership card) for Amici degli Uffizi for the last few weeks without any success. I read that the money for my tessera goes toward acquiring art and restoring works of art. I, of course, benefit by being allowed free entrance into many of the state museums in Florence, like the Uffizi and the Accademia. And, I don't have to wait in lines either!

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Living in Florence :: Il Porcellino

After our movie and dinner tonight, Dave and I walked through town to go home. From Ponte Vecchio, I usually walk to Piazza della Signoria, down via Calzaiuoli to the Duomo, walk behind it, and then turn on via dei Servi to our piazza. But, tonight, we decided to walk toward Piazza della Repubblica for a change.

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I consider myself a fairly polite and respectful person. In each country, they have their social rules, and I feel it only courteous to abide by them. In Italy for example, it is considered polite to greet the people in a room or shop that you are entering. This custom is not new to me as it is the same in France as well. What I find upsetting is that some people, who do know the custom, decide to not adhere to it for whatever reason.

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Last night we went out to eat dinner with one of our new friends. He and his wife had suggested we try Il Santo Bevitore. Lately, I've been checking out numerous guide books and websites to discover some new restaurants to try. After living in Florence for a few years, we end up going to the same restaurants all the time. We have gone to many restaurants and were disappointed by so many, that we had decided to stick with our favorites.

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