by Melinda Gallo

Tonight Dave and I took my brother, his wife and three kids to my friend (and landlord) Simone's restaurant, Il Canapone. It is my favorite restaurant in Florence because of its diverse menu of Italian fusion cooking. It's a nice variation from the typical Tuscan cooking in most restaurants here in Florence.

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Where there is shade, there are people. Here the sun seems to pierce your clothes and scald your skin. When the sun is out, everyone heads for the shade. Some people wear hats (portable shade) and others walk farther distances just to be in the shade given off by the buildings.

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I thought I was nervous when the woman took my blood for the tests, but I was even more nervous when the alarm on my computer told me it was time to go back to pick up my results. Each step felt like my last. What are they going to say? Is anything wrong with me? What could be wrong with me?

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I'm still not completely clear about the medical system here in Italy. I know that I can go to see my doctor any day of the week during her "open" times for free. I know that she gives me prescriptions and I get them filled and pay either nothing or next to nothing.

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A year ago I was cooking because I had to. Dave and I would drag ourselves to the grocery store and plan our week's meals while we were pushing the cart around. Nowadays I walk to the outdoor market with money in my pockets (it's too difficult to hold my purse and all the bags) and figure out the next few meals as I see what's available.

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Today when I got to yoga class, a few of us talked with the instructor about our Summer plans. One American girl said she was going to go back to the US for a little while and then come back to Florence. The Yoga instructor glanced over at me and asked me where I was from to see if we were "neighbors."

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Today I went to the alimentari (local grocery store) around the corner from our apartment and it began sprinkling. It felt so great. Finally, a little relief from the hot and windless days we've been having here. I was happy to be outside getting rained on and was surprised to see a few people with umbrellas. How did they know it was going to rain?

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I went to the mercato di Sant'Ambrogio (Sant'Ambrogio outdoor market) as I have done 1-3 times a week for almost nine months now. And, I mainly go to the same fruit vendor, cheese vendor, butcher, pasta shop, bakery, and grocer each time. I've checked out all the other vendors, but I keep going back to my favorites.

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My ex-Italian instructor, Gianluca, invited Dave and I to go to Villa Demidoff (which is a park in Pratolino outside of Florence) to celebrate the 4th of July today. Supposedly it was an invitation-only event where many Americans living in Tuscany (and mostly Florence) would be gathered together to celebrate.

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Living in Florence :: A football field in the piazza

Sunday they'll be having the last Calcio storico (historical football) in Florence. There are only three days in which the games are held, but the entire Piazza Santa Croce becomes the playing field. If you're standing on Via dei Benci, the beautiful chiesa (church) is almost invisible through the bleachers.

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At 11 AM this morning, our buzzer rang. As usual, I ignored it. I know I shouldn't do that, but some people buzz us to leave advertisement, others because they're going to see someone in the building who's not answering their buzzer, and of course il postino (the postman) whom I met the other day and told me that he hates our building because no one ever answers.

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I had the best idea this morning when I woke up. I asked Dave if he'd come with me to the anagrafe (Registry office) where we could sign up to be residents. We slowly went through the usual steps: go to the office directly to get information, get all the documents filled out, and bring it all with us.

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After two weekends away from Florence, we're so happy to be home. The only time I went out was to go to the market to buy fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, and cheese today. I almost never go to the supermarket any more and have become a regular at the outdoor market.

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Living in Florence :: In a hurry to leave Lido

Yesterday we went to the Excelsior hotel next to where the Venice Film Festival is held each year around August/September. We rode bikes past the crowded public beaches and the almost empty private beaches. We have never ridden bikes in Italy and it was fun. It's something we wouldn't try back in Florence. There weren't many cars and only a few buses. With such great weather, I'm sure everyone was at the beach.

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We took the crowded #82 vaporetto from Accademia to Lido. After being cramped on the vaporetto for about 30 minutes, we arrived. I jumped in the first and only taxi waiting at the taxi station. I couldn't imagine us lugging our luggage for 10 minutes in the heat.

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