by Melinda Gallo

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 è 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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My friend Rossana called me on my cell while I was out walking down via Guicciardini yesterday at lunch. I had just thought of her a moment or so before that, so I was surprised to hear her voice. "Vieni stasera alla meditazione? C'è un sacerdote che farà la Messa in casa!" (Are you coming tonight to the meditation? There's a priest who will be doing mass in my house!).

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For our fifth anniversary Dave and I wanted to go out for sushi. I looked at my list of sushi places here in Florence and only a few are open tonight. Our first choice, Eito, is closed on Mondays. We decided to go to Wabi Sabi in viale dei Mille near the stadio (football stadium).

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Today I went to Elisir, which is a perfume and skin care shop in Borgo degli Albizi, where I have become friendly with Rossella. I see her about once a month to get facials and buy products. She and I diamo del tu (use the familiar you form) although her husband and I diamo del Lei (use the formal you).

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Living in Florence :: A whirlwind visit of Florence

Today I met with my brother-in-law's sister, Linda, who came to Florence for the morning from Siena before heading off to Bologna. We scheduled to meet at 10:30AM at the Museo di Storia della Scienza. I was hoping that my tessera (card) for the "Amici degli Uffizzi" would be accepted, but the man at the biglietteria (ticket counter) told me that the museum is private and so he didn't accept it.

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I have been looking forward to meeting Jeff Shapiro for awhile. I found out that he was going to be at McRae bookstore last month, so I decided to buy one of his books, "Secrets of Sant'Angelo," when I stopped in one day. There were only two copies left in the shop and I wanted to make sure that I got a copy before Jeff came to the bookstore. That night I began reading the book and kept telling myself that I'd just read one more chapter even though it was late. My eyes were droopy, but I persevered and kept reading as long as I could.

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Today, we only had a few hours together. Unfortunately, Dave was still not feeling well, so I went with Massimo and our French friends alone. They picked me up in front of the Biblioteca nazionale which is along the lungarno. I saw crowds of tourists walking toward me and I was surprised that there were so many.

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Dave wasn't feeling well this morning, so I met up with Massimo and our French friends, L. and A. by myself. I didn't have an exact plan of what to show them becuase there's so much to see and we only had one day. I decided to take them to the Piazza della Signoria to start the tour after meeting them along the lungarno.

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Massimo drove our mutual French friends, Dave, and me to Florence from Milan. We were going to go back by train, but Massimo suggested that we all go together. Massimo had a minor language problem and I was supposed to bridge the gap. Massimo speaks Italian and a little English and an even smaller amount of French. Our French friends speak French and English. So, I was asked to translate between the French and Italian when necessary.

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Before catching a train to Milan for yet another conference yesterday, Dave and I went and had cappuccini e paste (cappuccinos and pastries) in a new bar. We decided to try a new bar that a friend of ours told us about in via Palmieri. Everyone seems to have a favorite bar to have a cappuccino and mine is on Borgo degli Albizi. Although it's also a pastry shop too.

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This morning at the gym someone actually talked to me. Usually women will only say hello and goodbye to me in the spogliatoio (locker room) and unless I make a comment about the weather, our conversation starts and stops there. Generally people at the gym take one look at me, realize that I'm not Italian, and pretend that I don't exist. The guy at the reception is friendly now that I've asked about his arm in the gesso (cast) and tell him buona giornata every time I leave.

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This morning we took a taxi to the Europcar office in Borgo Ognissanti to meet Maureen. She's a woman from Boston who comes to Florence because her sister lives here. She had offered us a ride to the Expats in Italy GTG (get together) in Chianti. I recognized Maureen because I saw her picture on the SlowTravel website where she's a moderator.

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Usually in Italy when there's a festa (holiday) on one day, people try to take a few days off to fare il ponte (literally means to make a bridge, but means to take a long weekend). Today is festa and a few of my friends took a long weekend even though the weather is not optimal. The temperatures have dropped to the mid 60's and it has been raining off and on.

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