by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Lunch at the Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio

Dave and I walked to my market for lunch. I've been told that the little trattoria inside was really good and inexpensive, but never had a chance to try it. I'm always rushing in and out of the market with all my goodies to cook at home. And normally, Dave doesn't come with me.

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At about 11AM, I decided that I'd swing by the Questura (police station) where Dave and I will need to go to renew our permessi di soggiorno (permits to stay) for another year. It's a tedious process I don't like, but I'm hoping that this time will be the last since I should be getting my Italian citizenship next year.

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I woke up early this morning thinking about my trip to the Comune di Firenze to ask about obtaining Italian citizenship. All of the possible outcomes ran through my head over and over. I put all the copies I have of my documents together in a folder and left.

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I try to be hopeful before going to any administrative office anywhere in the world (US, France, and Italy). There is something scary about having to deal with people who will decide your fate and you not having any recourse available to you. I went to the Prefettura (Prefecture) this afternoon to get information about obtaining Italian citizenship.

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The video started with verses from the Bible and then showed paintings of women suffering. A group of pregnant women, their spouses, and friends (me included) were all present to hear about getting an epidural (anesthesia administered in the spine) during labor. A rarity in Florentine hospitals due to many religious and traditional ideologies.

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I finally went back to the enoteca (wine bar) this morning before going to the market. I met the woman who works there, Concetta, when I went to pick up a bottle of wine for my brother and his family. We talked briefly and she told me that she's a writer and writes screenplays.

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This morning I went to the cartoleria (stationery shop) and noticed how many more people were in the streets. In front of my house, there were people walking outside. And not just tourists, there seemed to be more Italians. I was told that school started today and not last week, so that's why it was still quiet all last week.

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Living in Florence :: A quiet Sunday morning

Early this morning, I went to Piazza Ferrucci to meet some friends. I walked along the Arno away from town and was pleased at how peaceful the city seemed. There were a couple of people out walking their dogs. I didn't see many other people walking outside. Most people probably ride their bikes or scooters to get around this part of town.

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Since last night it hasn't stopped raining. I woke up listening to it falling outside. It wasn't a steady rain, sometimes it sprinkled and other times it began to pour. I slowly got out of bed and realized that I truly love the rain. The city is quiet with only the sound of rain falling on rooftops, the streets are cleaner, and the air becomes crisp.

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Today Dave and I took off a few hours from work and went shopping. We never shop together because we're usually busy working. Every time we walk by shops, and usually when they're closed, we find things we like. So today, we decided to finally take a short break and head downtown to the shops.

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I have been keeping up with the news on the tragedies following the hurricane. I've read the articles about the Superdome in New Orleans, seen many horrific pictures, and heard the New Orleans mayor's interview over the Internet that made me cry (as well as the mayor himself).

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Living in Florence :: Quick and wet visit

For the first time, we had visitors stay with us in our small apartment. Tom and Ruth slept on the fold-out couch, which we tried to make comfortable by placing a down comforter on the thin mattress, in our living room. We stayed up late last night (until about 3AM) talking and catching up. When we woke up this morning, we thought it would be best to just get outside and visit as much of the city as we could. They didn't have any plans of what they wanted to see, but wanted to get more of a feel for the city.

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I've had to keep a secret for about 6 weeks now and it has been very difficult for me. Dave's best friend Tom emailed me and told me that he and his wife would like to make a surprise visit in Florence for the weekend. He asked me to not tell Dave although each day it became harder and harder. I was so excited for Dave, but I just couldn't let myself spoil the surprise.

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Today I went to Il mercato di Sant'Ambrogio near my house where I go at least a few times a week to buy groceries. It was like a breath of fresh air. The people are nice to me since I go there a lot. They give me little discounts every time. I consider rounding down to the nearest Euro a discount.

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What can I say? The one place in all of Florence that I avoid almost more than a visit to the dentist's office. But, sometimes it's the only place that sells what I'm looking for. Today, I went to San Lorenzo with my new friend Ellen. It wasn't a planned trip, but we happened to be nearby browsing a few of the bookshops.

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