by Melinda Gallo

For the past three days, we've been flying in and out of different cities and countries. We've gone from Pisa to London, from London to San Francisco, and today from San Jose to Las Vegas. We arrived in Las Vegas where the temperatures felt much more like what we have in Florence right now, although much dryer.

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Everyone told me how I should know that flying out of Heathrow would be a nightmare. I found, however, that things went quite smoothly. We checked in at the self-service area, checked in our luggage, went through security, and that was it.

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On our trip to San Francisco, we decided to fare uno scalo (have a layover) in London for the night. We haven't been in a few years and love the city and wanted to see a few friends for dinner.

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I went all over town today buying a few last minute items before we take off to the US for a few weeks. I have already written down what I'm going to do when I get to California and it is all centered around food.

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After dropping off my sample at the punto prelievi/analisi (samples/analysis laboratory) almost 9 days ago, the risultati (results) were finally ready to be picked up today. The last time I was at the punto prelievi/analisi, I read on a sign that they only give out the risultati between 11:30AM and 12:30PM. In big print underneath, it said, "Né prima né dopo." (Not before and not after.)

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I read an article in this month's Per Me magazine in which I learned a few things from a sondaggio (survey) of 500 Italians regarding città italiane (Italian cities). The results involved a few of my favorite cities: Rome, Venice, Milan, and, of course, Florence.

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Every once in a while while I'm walking in the streets of Florence alone, a man will often inch up alongside of me and talk to me. My reaction is to look straight ahead and ignore him. The guy gets frustrated and even if he says something rude, he eventually stops.

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I never realized how long the month of August could be. Many of my friends, like Simone, have still not returned and a few shops and restaurants have still not reopened. After the ferragosto (August 15th), I thought that the city would quickly come back alive, but it hasn't yet. The last of the holiday-makers should be returning this Saturday and Florence will be back to normal.

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When I was a little girl, our family owned an ice cream/gift shop that later became a sandwich shop. My mother taught me to always wash my hands after touching money and before touching food. In the US, I feel that people follow these rules quite rigorously; however, in Italy I'm a little perplexed here as sometimes hands are washed and other times not.

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This morning, I had to wake up early to go get a few esami di sangue (blood tests) done. I had, of course, gone to the laboratorio (laboratory) yesterday to get information before I came in for the esami di sangue. The woman told me that I had to arrive digiuno (with an empty stomach) between 7:30AM and 10AM.

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Now that I have gone to two palestre (gyms) in downtown Florence this year, I feel that I have enough information to come to a few conclusions. I have been going to one palestra near my house all year and have rejoined my old palestra for the month of August because mine was closed for ferie (holidays).

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We were awakened this morning at around 6AM by flashes of lightning and the clamor of thunder. It was so loud that I thought a it was something much worse. The previsioni del tempo (weather forecast) has been predicting temporali (thunderstorms) almost every day last week, but they never came. Then, today after supposedly more people returned to Florence from their summer holidays, the temporali welcomed them back.

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This morning I went to the punto prelievi/analisi (samples/analysis laboratory) where my dottoressa (doctor) told me to drop off the sample to get tested. I had to carry the sample in my purse and drop them off at the laboratory, which is across the street from my palestra (gym).

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The city is filling up with locals again, but not as many as I'd thought at first. The mercato is a little busier, but mostly all I've seen are tourists. I rarely see tourists at my mercato because it's a little out of the way. But, seeing as though there are only two mercati in town, it makes sense that they come and visit it.

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