by Melinda Gallo

In my area, signs have been popping up everywhere announcing the chiusura estiva (summer holidays). Shops are closed at different times throughout July and August. Almost everyone takes the week before or after the ferragosto, which is the holiday on August 15th.

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I've had a few weeks to digest the label of "outsider" that I was given in the Wall Street Journal article. The label has made me think about my position in Florence as an outsider and as much as I don't like to admit it, the label fits. When I arrived in Florence, I wanted to be accepted and welcomed with open arms, but Florence is not a city that allows for that. The fiorentini (Florentines) are not the type of people who would welcome others to live here in their beloved city.

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A little over two years ago, I had an appointment at the Italian Consulate in California to give them all of my papers to obtain Italian citizenship through my grandfather who was born in Italy. At the time of my appointment, I was told that the process would take about two years and I had hoped they were just being a little pessimistic, but I guess they were just being optimistic.

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Today I woke up at 7:30AM to go with Dave to his Italian classes. His teacher, Raffaella, asked him to bring me in. At first, I was a little nervous to go as Dave had brought in the article about my blog that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on June 26th. They supposedly translated it in class and Raffaella said that I understood the Florentines quite well from what she read.

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Living in Florence :: L'Italia  Campione del mondo

For the finale dei Mondiali (World Cup finals), we met up with Steve and Susan in Piazza Repubblica and decided to go to Piazza Santissima Annunziata to watch the partita (soccer match). They told us that a big screen was set up in the piazza and there weren't too many people there yet. The game started at 8PM, so the sun was still out and the screen was a little difficult to see. We also weren't that close to it, so that too made it difficult.

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I often avoid il centro (downtown) on Saturdays because I always think that there are too many people milling about. Today, I decided to go for a walk in the early evening down Borgo degli Albizi. I was planning on going to my favorite profumeria (profume shop), but it was closed. I then noticed that many of the shops and bars were also closed.

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Today when I went to the palestra (gym), one of the guys whom I often see there said "ciao" to me from afar when I arrived. We had talked a few other times as I responded to his comments about the zanzare (mosquitoes) and the caldo (heat) in the palestra.

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Dave and I decided to head down to San Niccol where the partita (soccer match) would be held on a few big screens outside. We didn't leave the house until after the primo tempo (first half) with a score of 0-0. The restaurants that we walked past were virtually empty with the staff sitting in front of TV sets watching the game. The Piazza Santa Croce was quiet with hardly anyone around.

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Living in Florence :: Aperitivo al Capocaccia

Today I met with Dinneen, an American who came to study Italian for a month, for a drink this afternoon. We sat in the Piazza della Signoria at Rivoire facing the Palazzo Vecchio. We enjoyed our drinks and sat for a few hours talking, watching people walk by, and trying not to get attacked by the pigeons.

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Toni is the star player of La Fiorentina, the Florentine soccer team, and is playing in the Mondiali (World Cup). People have been a little disappointed because he non ha segnato un punteggio (hasn't scored a goal) yet. But everything changed in tonight's game against the Ukraine.

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I had been wanting to go out for an aperitivo (appetizers) with friends for awhile. Dave and I have only been once with another couple last year to Angels. We ordered drinks and were able to nibble on many different pasta dishes and salads. It was a fun and inexpensive way to go out, try a new restaurant, and socialize with friends.

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Dave asked me the other day why I say ciao so many times when I hang up the phone after talking with my friends. It took me a few conversations to notice that I say it three times in a row almost every single time. I would generally end a typical conversation like this, "OK, a presto. Ciao ciccia. Ciao, ciao, ciao." (OK, see you soon. Bye sweetie. Bye, bye, bye) with my voice fading with each ciao.

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Living in Florence :: Fa un caldo bestiale

The past few days have been hot. And everywhere I go, I hear something like, "Fa un caldo bestiale!" (It's terribly hot!) There are a million ways for everyone to lament over this hot weather. Most of the time, suffice it to say, Che caldo! (What heat!) As one of my Florentine friends, Massimiliano, told me. "Non si contenta mai...il tempo troppo caldo o troppo freddo." (No one is ever happy...the weather is either too hot or too cold.)

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Living in Florence :: Forza Azzurri!

When I walked down Borgo la Croce today I saw many Italian flags (as shown in my picture) to show support for the Italian team for the Mondiali di Germania (World Cup in Germany). Not even on national holidays have I seen flags outside shops like this. During the Olympics this year, I didn't see a single flag put up anywhere. For the last two partite (soccer matches), I even saw lots of guys wearing t-shirts with the Italian flag on them and a few even had the Italian flag painted on their face.

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I generally have good boundaries. I try not to help every person I see on the streets of Florence holding a map. I want to help them out, but I realize that unless they are crying or asking me, I just have to not look at them and walk by. It can be quite challenging at times since the number of tourists here in Florence has doubled in less than a month!

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