by Melinda Gallo

Today we celebrated Christmas. Since we arrived in Denver, we've been to almost every mall around to shop for gifts and for ourselves. We wrapped all of the presents and exchanged them with Dave's family. We shipped everything last year, which might not have been too terrible, but on many items that were shipped to us in Italy, we had to pay duty on them when they arrived.

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Dave and I have decided to rent a car and drive to Colorado to visit his family. We've driven it before when I was terrified to fly, but this time we did it mostly because we haven't driven in a year. We rented a Jaguar (heck, we haven't driven in a year...we can spoil ourselves a little) and left Los Gatos, CA on Wednesday morning.

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It's funny that after living in Italy for a year that I forgot many things about the differences between the Bay Area in California and Florence. We were up in San Francisco for a conference and forgot many aspects that actually seem normal to us now that are very different from the US.

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Living in Florence :: San Francisco, here we are!

Yesterday was a long day. I woke up at 7AM today thinking that I had plenty of time to get ready for our 9:30AM pickup. We got a call at 8:45AM and the driver said that due to traffic, we had to leave as soon as possible and that she was waiting downstairs for us. She gave us 15 minutes to finish up.

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Yesterday we thought we had all the time in the world. Our plane was leaving Pisa at 10:55PM. We walked around searching for the last few items on our list. And we walked, not ran around. It was a beautiful and sunny day in Florence and we took in all that we could.

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Living in Florence :: A presto!

Today Dave and I made one last round of shopping and errands before our trip back to the US. We have to go to Pisa airport for our flight to Gatwick tonight and then we spend the night there, get a ride to Heathrow, and leave for SF in the early afternoon.

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Dave and I got a lot of things done today before our trip back to the US on Sunday. We're looking forward to it especially since we haven't been back in a year. We especially can't wait to see our family and friends. We even made lists of things we want to do, eat, see, and bring back to Florence.

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So it's odd that only a few days before our trip to the US, I should bump into people I haven't seen in years! We went to lunch with friends near Santo Spirito. On our way back we walked past the mosaic workshop where I used to work and two of the three guys I know were standing outside.

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I received a response from the Italian consulate today and they explained that even if I file in Italy, the documents that I was hoping to get will have to be requested by the comune. They said that they don't give precedence to any other requests. So that means that if I file here in Florence, I'll be put at the bottom of the pile.

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At 9AM there are a million things I'd rather be doing. But, instead I was walking in the rain through the empty streets of Florence (with only a handful of tourists walking about) to the comune for my appointment with my lawyer. I got there late, but 15 seconds after she arrived. She went through the metal detector and then I went through right after her.

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Today I scheduled an appointment with my lawyer to go to the citizenship office at the comune to see what I can do about the discrepancies on my father's birth certificate. It seems like just yesterday that I went to the citizenship office to talk to the woman who's in charge of it, but I was hoping it'd be smoother with my lawyer.

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All it took was one day. Yesterday it was sunny, but cool, and today it started raining right after lunch. I knew I should have gone to the Festa della ceramica (Ceramics Festival) yesterday, but I was too busy doing other things. After I took my nap, I dragged Dave to the Festa della ceramica in Piazza Santissima Annunziata even though it was still sprinkling.

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It was a beautiful morning when I left the house. I walked along the Arno river to go to the American consulate, which sits on the corner surrounded by policemen. There are no cars that can drive past the consulate and it's all gated so that you have to walk around to get inside.

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In the attempts of trying to get my Italian citizenship here in Italy, I thought I'd see a lawyer who specializes in this. I found two who did and one was in Florence quite close to my apartment. I called on Tuesday and had an appointment for Thursday.

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Waking up early to deal with Italian bureaucracy is not my idea of a good day. I called a taxi to take us to the Questura (police station) at 8:30AM. I thought of doing our habitual run to the bus stop, get on one bus to go to the Duomo and then get on another one to go to Piazza San Marco. But, in the morning hours the buses are packed and I'm too stressed about going to the Questura to want to add more stress to my morning.

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