by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Via Ghibellina

For the past few weeks, the city has been working on via Ghibellina. There have been many manifestazioni (rallys) because the workmen are digging up all the old stones from the street and dumping them in a truck to be hauled away some where. One woman who lives on via Ghibellina (as the story I was told goes) followed the truck and found out that they were just disposing of them completely. Their plan is to replace the old stones with asfalto (asphalt).

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When I lived in Florence from 1997 to 1999, I had two different conti correnti (checking accounts): one at Banca Toscana and one at Banca di Napoli. I don't remember why I switched banks, but it was a big mistake. When I closed my account at Banca Toscana, I remember them taking money out before they gave me the balance. Then, with Banca di Napoli, I left my account open for a year after I left and when I came back, I owed them money to close it.

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For most of the day yesterday, I was a little stressed about our new apartment because we didn't sign the proposta di locazione (rental agreement/proposal). The proprietario (owner) and I did shake on it, but nothing is as sure as a signed proposta di locazione.

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The 20th apartment we visited ended up being the perfect one for us. I had actually visited it on Thursday and fell in love with it. When I made an appointment for Dave to come back and visit it, my agente immobiliare (real estate agent) asked the proprietaria (owner) to hold it for us until then. I was happy that she agreed since I knew that anyone else who saw it would have wanted it.

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This morning I went to the Teatro del Sale to attend a book discussion group. I received an email from Jeff Shapiro, the author of "Renato's Luck," in which he said that he was coming to Florence to talk about his novel with this book discussion group, and he welcomed me to come along.

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Living in Florence :: Three real estate agents, five apartments, and a church

I am literally exhausted now having walked around the entire city twice today to look at five different apartments. My entire day was filled with one appointment after another. What's odd is that it only takes a few minutes to view an apartment, but the walking to and from is what takes up so much time.

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Early this morning, I received a phone call from the agenzia immobiliare (real estate agency) saying that they wanted to move our appointment to 11:45AM instead of 12:30PM today. I was also told that the other girl in the office wasn't going to show me, but rather the proprietario (owner) of the agenzia immobiliare. I felt a little nervous about that last part because I had seen him, but hadn't yet met him. And, I was thinking about what my friend said and reminded myself to keep an open mind.

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The milanese (girl from Milan) gave me an idea last week when she talked about all the agenzie immobiliari (real estate agencies) that she was in contact with. I had seen some interesting apartments on a website and I asked my friend if she knew this particular agenzia immobiliare. She said that she didn't like the guy who owns the agenzia immobiliare and suggested that I not go there. I told my agente (real estate agent) #2 about what my friend said and she told me that I should go anyway.

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This evening, Dave and I went to the Florence International Theatre Company (FITC)'s first production, "Net Worth" written and performed by Bari Hochwald at the Be Bop Music Club. Bari is a professional actress who moved to Florence a little over a year ago and is the co-artistic director of FITC along with Aaron Craig.

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Ever since about June this year, my macellaio (butcher) has been only working in the mornings and by the time I get there at about noon, he's gone. I kept going to the same macelleria (butcher shop), but didn't feel like I was treated as well by the other macellai who work there. They rarely smiled at me and weren't all that energized to come to help me. Sometimes I'd feel so discouraged that I'd just walk away.

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After three and a half hours of looking at different apartments, talking with other agents, and trying to keep warm, I'm exhausted. I met up with my agente #2 today for an appointment at 2PM and didn't get home until almost 6PM. I had to leave the house right after lunch because our meeting point was near Piazza Santissima Annunziata.

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It's already risky going to the mercato (market) on an empty stomach. All the colorful fruits, leafy vegetables, rosy red meats, perky cheeses, and pristine stacks of fresh pasta look even more delicious when I walk by the banconi (counters). I end up lugging more items home on the days when my stomach is growling. Today, there was an additional risk that I didn't count on: I checked out Brian and Claudia's website, Mestolando.

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Today, I went to visit a couple more apartments with my agente (real estate agent) #2. We had set up today's appointment last Thursday when we arrived late to an apartment and the proprietario (owner) had supposedly already left. My agente called the proprietario to reschedule the appointment and so here we were again: same place a few days later.

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I had an incredibly social Monday. I was supposed to be working on a project this afternoon, but instead I had a drink with a friend of mine, went to a wine bar with my writing instructor near Ponte Vecchio, and had dinner with two of Dave's friends from school in San Niccolò.

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Living in Florence :: Una giornata eccezionale

Normally on Sundays, I stay home. I avoid the crowded streets in centro (downtown) so that I can work on my computer, read, and just get ready for the upcoming week. But, today I went out for lunch with my friend Tina who is living in Perugia. We met in Piazza Santo Spirito and had lunch out on the restaurant's terrazza (terrace).

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