by Melinda Gallo

So many things happened in 1997 that prompted me to come to Florence. I had visited Florence only once with an ex-boyfriend. He, eleven of his friends, and I rented a villa in Umbria for a week. My ex and I flew to Milano and rented a car to drive down to the villa. We didn't drive directly to Umbria, we first spent a few days at Lago di Como, had lunch in Parma, and then stayed a few nights in Bologna.

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A little after 1PM, I went to the mercato (market) today. I generally avoid going on Saturdays because it's usually quite busy. I went to my macellaio (butcher) and he looked overwhelmed by all the people standing in front of the counter. There were so many people that I decided to go to the gastronomia (cheese/milk vendor) while the crowds died down.

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Today, I finally got together with my friend Martina and the other two guys, Taccone and Gabriele, who used to work at the marble shop where I worked back in 1998. I walked past their laboratorio (workshop) back in October before our trip to the States and I promised that I'd be back sometime for lunch. They told me where Martina was working and I finally got around to going to her new place of work a few weeks ago.

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Today our new donna delle pulizie (cleaning lady), Giovanna, came today for the first time to clean the house. She came by Monday for us to meet and for her to look at the house. She's a sweet Italian woman who I'm liked the second I met her. I was happy that I finally found a donna delle pulizie after at least 6 months after the other one left us.

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Living in Florence :: Museo di Palazzo Davanzati

I walked to via Porta Rossa, near the Mercato Nuovo, to visit a noble family's 14th century palazzo (palace), the Museo di Palazzo Davanzati. Dave and I generally walk right past the palazzo on our way to the Odeon movie theaters, but we never stopped by for a visit. It's not that noticeable as it looks like many of the other palazzi in Florence.

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This morning on my way to the gym, it smelled like spring outside. I was all bundled up with my wool coat and scarf wrapped around my neck twice, but something seemed different. The air was warmer and possibly even a little more humid than usual. It smelled like early morning in the summer before the sun has reached its peak.

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Living in Florence :: Casa Buonarroti

I'm embarrassed to admit that I live about a block from Casa Buonarroti (Michelangelo's house) and I only just visited it today for the first time. I walk past it many times a week to go to the gym, the grocery store, and the alimentari (corner grocer) that is right across the street from it. I made a point this morning of getting out of the house early enough to go for a visit, especially since it was one of a few museums open on Mondays.

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Today is the beginning of l'anno del cane di fuoco (Year of the Fire Dog) and to celebrate Dave and I went to a Chinese restaurant. There is actually only one Chinese restaurant I like in Florence, named "Osir", but because of the rain, I didn't want to go to viale Lavagnini, which is on the other side of town. I actually haven't been there since Dave and I moved here.

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Last year we were often cold in our apartment. Our building is quite old so we're not lucky enough to have riscaldamento centralizzato (central heating), which consists of radiators installed throughout the apartment. We have riscaldamento autonomo (autonomous heating), which basically means you have to fend for yourself. We have a few heaters/air conditioners installed high on the wall, but we don't use them any more because the heat only goes higher and the air is still cold.

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Living in Florence :: Galleria dell'Accademia

This afternoon while I had a break from work, I thought I'd go and visit a museum and take some pictures. As I looked at the list of museums that I want to visit, I realized that they were all closed in the afternoon. There were only two that I wanted to try to visit today: Casa di Dante and Galleria dell'Accademia. I decided to walk toward Piazza San Marco, where I took the picture shown here, before it got dark.

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During the week between Christmas and New Year's, the post office was open; however, we didn't get any mail at all. I'm sure business was slow during the holidays and some people took the entire week off, but we only got mail once during that entire week. I love receiving letters in the mail even though I keep in contact with almost everyone via email.

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Mondays are interesting in Florence: many shops don't open until after lunch, a few restaurants don't even open, and quite a few museums are closed. Monday is one of those slow-to-start-the-week days. The mercato (market) and the supermercati (supermarkets) are open, but they're not that busy.

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A friend of mine sent me a crystal that I asked her to buy me in the US. It didn't arrive until after I left so I asked her to send it to me in Italy. Normally, things come fairly quickly between 3-10 days by standard mail. She called me last Saturday to tell me that she just sent it to me, but failed to mention that she was sending it via FedEx.

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After living here for quite some time, I finally realized the other day that almost every street in downtown Florence is senso unico (one-way). There are only a handful of two-way streets, like via Cavour, via dei Cerratani (both near the Duomo) and the viali (avenues) that delimit the centro (downtown center). Buses always go in the specified direction, cars generally do, and biciclette (bicycles) and motorini (scooters) rarely do.

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Living in Florence :: Finalmente...un po' di sole

Finally, the sun came out to shine today. After staying in all day yesterday, I couldn't wait to get outside. I had planned on visiting friends at their house today, but instead we decided to meet at the Giardino di Boboli (Boboli Gardens) behind Palazzo Pitti. My friend has three kids and they needed some time in the sun and fresh air. With my tessera (card), I'm allowed to go to the gardens as well as museums all year long for free. It is such a treat to visit anything I want multiple times. And especially now when the city is rather quiet.

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