by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Happy to be home

During our final breakfast at the local pātisserie (pastry shop), we realized how much we did during our week stay in France. We had had some great times and had visited cities and places that we thoroughly enjoyed. We didn't make any plans for our trip except for our three-day conference in Opio and four days off in Nice.

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Living in Florence :: Grand Prix de Monaco

We took the train from Nice to Monaco to see if we could get a glimpse of the Grand Prix de Monaco (Monaco Formula 1). We didn't do any research about getting tickets, but we did know that today they would be racing the classic cars. We had no idea what to expect in Monaco and we were pleasantly surprised.

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Living in Florence :: Enjoying Nice

During the conference in Opio, I had talked to many French people there who told me that Nice wasn't that interesting to visit. They said that the vieux Nice (old town in Nice) is interesting, although dirty, but that the rest of the city wasn't appealing. Most of them suggested that we go to Cannes and Monaco instead. This morning, we decided to stay in Nice to walk around and visit as much of it as possible.

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Living in Florence :: Cannes Film Festival

When we were told of our French conference, I hadn't realized that the Cannes Film Festival would be held at the same time. It's not something that I generally keep track of. I know when it's going on when it's in the news. I was thinking of staying in Cannes instead of Nice, but I decided against it when I couldn't find any nice rooms there.

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Our days in Opio have been full of sun and cool breezes. We've been able to have all the windows and doors open during the day and even the night in our room. It's the one thing we can almost never do in Florence in the spring and summer because of the zanzare (mosquitoes). I would've thought we'd be invaded by various insects in the French countryside, but there seem to be very few.

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Dave and I have never been to a Club Med before. Last year when we were in the US for a conference, the French mother-company invited Dave and me to come to their French conference. They offered to pay for everything and Dave, in exchange, would do a few presentations. All we had to do was get here.

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When I woke up at 5:30AM this morning, I took a picture of the sunrise from one of our windows in the apartment because I never get to see it. At 7AM, I called a taxi and they gave us only a few minutes to drag our luggage downstairs. The second we opened the building door, the taxi arrived. He drove us down the empty streets and I looked back at the Santa Croce church, which was so beautifully lit in the morning sun, as we turned toward Piazza della Signoria.

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Living in Florence :: A busy Saturday

When I arrived in Piazza della Signoria after lunch, I saw crowds of people standing around and then heard cars driving by. I walked up to the barrier and found out that the Mille Miglia car race was on its final leg through Florence and back up to Brescia. The police temporarily closed off via Calzaiuoli to let the cars drive by, but I was able to take pictures from the other side of the barrier.

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When I bought a new pair of sandals at Coin today, the woman told me to go to a calzolaio (shoemaker) to see if he could repair them so that I won't slip on the pavement. I had seen a calzolaio near where I live, but I knew that at 6:30PM, I'd have to hurry to get there before closing time at 7PM.

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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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