by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Un bel giro a Siena

Today I went to Siena with a new friend I made through my blog, Samantha. She's in Italy for a few weeks and even though we hadn't met beforehand, we decided to go to Siena together. I had a good feeling about her through the emails we exchanged and our recent conversations on the phone after she arrived in Florence. We met in front of the San Lorenzo church and set out for the SITA bus station to take a bus to Siena.

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Because my palestra (gym) is closed for the rest of the month, I've been forced to go to my old palestra. I used to go to Palestra Ricciardi when I lived in Florence back in 1997-1999 and then each time I visited for a month, I'd sign back up. Each time I went, I'd see all the same people I used to know.

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Last night Dave and I met some friends for a gelato at Grom after dinner. We stood in via delle Oche waiting for them to arrive. At 10PM, the streets were quiet and only a few people were in the gelateria. When they arrived, we went inside to get a gelato and ate it outside in the streets enjoying the cool evening air.

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After weeks and weeks of high temperatures, we finally got some respite today. Not only has this summer been a scorcher, but the humidity has been so high that the air hasn't been cooling down at night. Everywhere I've been people have talked about the weather, but not in the usual way. If I see someone I know, we've just been looking at each other, shaking our heads, and saying, "Ma quando finisce questo caldo? Non ce la faccio più." (When is this heat ending? I can't take it any more.)

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Living in Florence :: Concerti in piazza Santa Croce

I haven't been able to go through Piazza Santa Croce in quite a while. They built a stadium in the middle of the piazza for various performances and concerts. The stage is right below the front of the church, so that all the people in the audience face the church. It's a wonderful setup except that everyone has to walk around it and you can't really take a picture of the front of Santa Croce right now.

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I don't think I have ever slept as bad as I did last night. I kept trying to go over in my head how to drive to Borgo Ognissanti from our area without going through the restricted areas. I kept visualizing the streets I'd have to take, but since I never drive in Florence, I only have a few memories of when I've been driven around by friends and taxis.

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Living in Florence :: Quick visit to Perugia

We woke up to a sunny and hot morning in Massa Martana. We enjoyed our breakfast on the terrace of their rented villa with our friends. We sat in the shade and contemplated what we'd do for the day. We discussed visiting another town, swimming, and, of course, eating.

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Living in Florence :: Driving down to Orvieto

Our friends from Paris have rented a villa in Umbria in a small town called Massa Martana. We looked at taking a train, but it got too complicated. Our friends said that we should rent a car to come down. We hadn't thought of it, but decided it was a great idea. We haven't driven a car in Italy since we moved here in 2004.

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For the second afternoon in a row, a temporale (thunderstorm) has broken out. In the morning, the sky is clear and blue even though the air is hot and muggy. By lunchtime, a few white clouds arrive and we think the temperatures will decrease with the sun being covered up just a little bit. At around 3PM, we can see the dark clouds loom above and then the temporale arrives with thunder, lightning, and heavy rains that fall in every direction.

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In the summer, via Calzaiuoli seems almost busier in the evening than it does in the days when the shops are open. With temperatures still hovering the mid-80's at 11PM, the only thing left to do is to walk around outside, get a gelato (ice cream), and enjoy the atmosphere. That's exactly what we did with my brother, his wife, and two nieces after dinner this evening.

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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 è 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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