by Melinda Gallo

Today on my way down via de' Neri to go to my parrucchiere (hairdresser), I saw a small billboard outside of the McRae bookstore saying that Isabella Dusi was going to be coming this evening. I had seen her books "Vanilla Beans and Brodo" and "Bel Vino" in the bookstore but never bought either one.

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Living in Florence :: Thunderstorms in spring

This morning I woke up at 4AM to the sound of thunder roaring outside. A few flashes and then more rumbling. I heard the rain begin to fall as I fell back asleep. At 8AM I woke up and it was pouring down rain. Our friends, John and Shruti, told us that it was hailing this morning, but we didn't see that. When we went to their place, they even showed us a piece of ice the size of a gum-ball that they put in a container in their freezer.

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Living in Florence :: Shamans in Italy

When I moved to Italy back in November of 2004, my friend Arcangela accompanied me to a place where she went to do yoga. I'd been advised to do yoga by many people and I was finally ready to give it a try. Over the past year and a half, I've been going to my yoga center for many different activities besides yoga.

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Because Florence is often crowded with locals and tourists, I find myself not going out during the peak times of the day. For example, I don't shop in the late afternoons and I almost never go to the mercato before noon. I try to plan my excursions when the streets aren't quite as congested.

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Today when I went to the mercato, the weather was absolutely perfect. It was cool in the shade and warm in the sun. After weeks of intermittent rain, which mostly came in the afternoon, I was so happy to finally see the sunny skies. So happy, in fact, that I watered the plants on our little terrace.

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Our apartment is generally quiet, but sometimes in the spring and summer when we open up all the windows, we can hear the neighbors talking, watching TV, and shutting their windows and doors. Today is the Festa del lavoro/Festa dei lavoratori (Labor day) in Italy, so we woke up to the birds chirping, a steady quietness, and sunny skies.

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I loved Florence the minute I visited it a year before I planned on moving here. I knew that visiting a city and living in the same city would be different, but I was willing to risk it. I found the move to Florence more difficult than I had with other moves I'd made previously. I had arrived alone and was struggling to learn the language. I had no help, no friends, no job, no acquaintances, and no idea of what I was going to do next.

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Living in Florence :: La Mostra dell'Artigianato

One of my favorite things to do in Florence is go to the annual Mostra dell'Artigianato. I love to check out the different artists and craftsmen who present and sell their work. This year again, it was held at the Fortezza da basso (pictured here), which is located behind the train station.

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Dave and I love going to the movies. The one time I took Dave to an Italian movie theater, the man in front of us was talking on the phone for a few minutes during the film. A few Italian kids tried to get him off, but he pretended not to hear them. Some Italians do talk during the film and can't seem to whisper. It's one of those habits that I have a hard time with.

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Living in Florence :: Day trip to San Casciano

A friend of mine, Francesca, referred me to an agopunturista (acupuncturist) in San Casciano, which is about 30-35 minutes by bus from Florence. My appointment wasn't until 4PM, but I had to take the 2:30PM bus. I rushed out of the house at 2PM and took a local bus up to the train station. I was surprised to see Gianluca, my former Italian teacher and friend, board the bus.

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I rushed back to school so I could go out to dinner with the people at my Italian school. Some of the students were all dressed up and a few of the girls I almost didn't recognize. A few older-looking Italian guys were talking to Gianluca and when we all seemed to be there, he introduced us to them.

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A girl I know from my yoga center, Donatella, asked me to come by her apartment today so that I could take pictures of her place. She and I had bumped into each other in centro (downtown) twice last week. The last time we saw each other, we planned that I would come over to take some pictures of her apartment for her. Donatella is hoping to rent it out while she's away in South America this summer.

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I went back to the mercato on Tuesday. It was closed on Easter Monday, Pasquetta. Our entire area seemed closed Monday. We had our windows open and our neighborhood was eerily quiet. I didn't hear any children in the nearby park where they usually play most afternoons. Some of our neighbors also seemed to be away because we couldn't hear them. Because the weather is a little warmer now, the windows to most apartments are open and I can hear a few of our neighbors talking, their TVs blaring, and the baby across the garden crying.

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Living in Florence :: Pasqua a Pisa

Today Dave and I went with my sister, brother-in-law, and niece to Pisa. We were initially going to take the 11:27 train, but because we arrived at the train station in Florence at 10:45, I decided to try to get tickets for the 10:57 train. The line for picking up tickets for trains that depart within 15 minutes is fairly short most of the times, but for some reason, people were standing up at the sportello (window) for long periods of time. I kept looking at the clock and shifting my weight from one leg to the other. When the girl in front of me was just about to leave the sportello, I ran up and talked to the ticket agent from over the girl's shoulder.

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After I first arrived in Florence years ago, I quickly realized that it was quite small. I found myself walking in centro (downtown) and bumping into people I either knew or saw just recently. Florence can feel almost provincial at times.

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