by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Drastic change in weather

In only one day, the weather went from fairly warm and sunny to cold, cloudy, and even rainy. I had finally taken a day off of apartment searching and walked through Piazza Santa Croce. It was great to walk around without having to be somewhere at a specific time.

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After visiting yet another apartment this morning, I met up with my friend Sara for lunch. She was sitting in Piazza Santissima Annunziata with her friend Luisa, and we decided to go to my favorite Chinese restaurant on via Guelfa, which wasn't too far away. While we were standing at the stoplight on via Cavour just about to cross the street, I noticed that the red lanterns weren't hanging outside of the building. I thought that maybe they took them down temporarily, but when we walked up to the door, we realized that it was gone.

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This morning when I began my day I had no idea that I would find myself on the back of a motorino (scooter) to visit an apartment near Santo Spirito. It's been a long time since I was on the back of a motorino, and I almost forgot about how thrilling and scary it can be.

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It seems like Sunday is the day when I hear my neighbors the most. Our windows are open because the weather is still nice, but at 9AM I heard the elderly man downstairs whistling at the pigeons and another girl, probably one of the new tenants downstairs, singing along with the radio.

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This afternoon I took a walk over Ponte alle Grazie bridge to see Simone at his restaurant. I have only seen two of my friends since coming back to Florence. I have exchanged messagini (SMS messages) with almost all of my friends as it's the easiest way to contact each one. Only one or two friends of mine called me on the telephone, i.e. my friend Rossana called me on my first day back just to say, "Ben tornata!" (Welcome back!)

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Living in Florence :: I could live with this view

Today on my second day of apartment hunting, my agente (real estate agent) took me around to visit three apartments in a different area from where I originally requested. I had never thought of living near the Ponte Vecchio before: I felt it would be a little too touristy for us to live in. Sometimes I almost don't notice the tourists in Piazza Santa Croce because I've become so adept at walking around them.

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During my month away from Florence, I tried not to think about all the apartment hunting I'd have to do when I got back. It wouldn't be that stressful if I had more time, but Simone wants to move back into his place within the next month or so. I tried to search for an apartment before we left, but either agencies wouldn't show me anything or the few apartments I did see weren't right for us.

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Living in Florence :: Pure bliss

As I walked the streets of Florence today, I was amazed at the wonderful weather we're having. For the past two years, Dave and I have missed out on being in Florence in October. And, now I see that we probably missed the best month ever to be visiting Florence! The mornings are a little brisk, so we still need to wear a light sweater, but by lunchtime, the sun is shining brightly and it feels great to be outside. It's not until the evening when the sun goes down that we need a sweater again. There's not a cloud in the sky and the winds are quite light, so it is simply wonderful!

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It feels like we missed out on an entire day when we finally arrived home a little after 11PM on Monday. We left Sunday evening from San Francisco around 7PM and arrived at the Pisa airport on Monday at 10PM. Luckily, I was able to sleep for a few hours in the plane, which made me feel a little better about an entire day lost in flight.

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I have tried to not think too much about my mother mostly because I have a difficult time remembering her without feeling sad. Although when I'm in the States, I think about her much more often. Memories of her are all around me because I usually stay at my sister's house, which is close to where we were brought up. I ended up driving past our house in Sunnyvale, my high school, and our sandwich shop where we used to work when we were growing up.

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My sister and her family have been raving about Manresa for years and finally this year I was able to eat there with my family to celebrate my birthday. A few weeks before we were to eat at Manresa, the restaurant was mentioned in Gourmet magazine as one of America's top 50 restaurants this year. And then, just a few days before our dinner, Manresa was given two Michelin stars.

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There are many things that I had forgotten about living in the US. Mostly they are little things that were at one point second nature to me. Living in Italy has instilled me with different habits, so during my trip to the States, I have felt a bit awkward at times and have made a few faux pas.

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Since we've arrived in the States a few weeks ago, we've been busier than ever. We have flown to different cities (and states), stayed in our relative's and friend's houses, and driven around a little bit. We've been to Las Vegas, Denver, Breckenridge (CO), Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Los Gatos, and Sacramento. We've done a lot in such a short amount of time and have visited almost everyone we came here to see.

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Before I left on my trip to the US, I was quite emozionata (emotional) about leaving my beloved city. I ran around town to see a few of my friends in the days before I left to say good-bye. It was quite difficult for me to see a few of my friends, so I ended up not seeing them all face-to-face. It sounded like forever when I told them that I'd be gone an entire month. I didn't want to dwell on my not being there as I really wanted to enjoy my time in the US.

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Today is the first day that we didn't have to go to the airport and take a plane. Today, in Las Vegas, we took a taxi to the Fashion Show mall, which is on the other end of town from our hotel. We haven't been in a mall since we were in the US last year; I forgot how big and airy the malls are.

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