by Melinda Gallo

At the beginning of the year, we hired a girl to come and clean the house once a week. It's a bit of a luxury, but with my work schedule, I just don't have time. Sali, who is a young Philipino mother living in Italy for the past 10 years, works for my friend's sister as well. She's a hard worker and quiet.

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Today is a holiday in Italy. I had to make sure I went to the market to stock up on food at the market yesterday. I'm pretty sure that La Standa will be open, but it will also be packed with people and not well stocked. I found out that today's holiday, Festa della Repubblica, was reinstated only a few years ago. It's the day when Italy decided to become a Republic.

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I went out to dinner with a few friends the other night. And I was surprised that no one left a spot of food on their plates. I love food and I eat quite a lot for my size; however, I just can't finish every plate that is put in front of me.

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Living in Florence :: Fontana di Nettuno

Today we went downtown to have lunch with a Dutch friend of ours who was visiting Florence and us. We've been to all of our favorite restaurants at least twice in the past week. So, we went out looking for a new one today. Our friend was still looking to eat some more tortellini, which we hadn't had much luck in finding.

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On our little terrace, the trees and bushes are blossoming. Big orange flowers on one tree and little jasmine flowers on the trellis. It's a joy to look out the windows and see them all. The only downside is that we have to water almost every day now that it's getting so hot.

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Well, my experience with the farmacia (pharmacy) has never been that extensive. I go to ask for simple things, like Vaseline, aspirin, thermometers, and any prescriptions I might have.

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There are days I open the refrigerator door and I don't know what to cook for lunch. Nothing inspires me. Since we've been eating dinner out for the last few days, I'm really in the mood to cook something today. It's only noon and the outdoor market is still open for a little bit longer. I'm getting hungrier by the minute so I head out.

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I had an appointment with a new doctor yesterday. As with most doctor's offices, there is no reception desk or even nurses. You buzz the door outside, they let you in, and you look for the office in the building, which is usually an apartment building. Once you find the door, you go inside and sit yourself down to wait.

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Two friends of ours arrived on Saturday afternoon from California and we've been enjoying great dinners accompanied with fantastic wines. It has been a wonderful treat for us to go out with Jack because he has so much knowledge about wines. I have even begun to like white wines now.

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My two favorite cities. They are so different and yet I love them both equally. Paris is "grandiose" while Florence is understated. Paris is big while Florence is small. However, they do have similarities, like the abundance of culture, art, theatre, and nightlife.

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Today I was outside walking in the rain and I saw what the tourists do now when it rains. Many of them were huddled under doorways with and without umbrellas. They were looking up at the Santa Croce church, usually with a guide book or map in hand, from the other side of the piazza. It was odd to see them all together as if getting wet would somehow harm them.

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This morning we went to the gym and the sky looked a little menacing. Dark grey clouds were sparse, but still not leaving fast enough. We were planning on taking a day trip with our friends to Lucca today, but that ended up getting canceled because of rain.

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We went to our friend Stef's dance recital at Stazione Leopolda last night; her last one in Italy before she heads back to New York this month. Once we were let out of the curtained area where the performance took place, people just came pouring into this renovated train station. I forgot how many people go out on a Saturday night to night clubs, bars, and discos. And Stazione Leopolda is all three on Friday and Saturday nights.

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Today I realized how many differences there are between living in California and living here. Many of these things seem normal to me now, but still I find them interesting to mention. When I look at the differences, some seem minute while others seem much greater than they really are.

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Instead of going for sushi for dinner tonight as planned, we were invited to eat dinner with our American friends who live here and who are leaving in a few weeks to go back to New York. Dave and I are both sad that they're leaving Florence. We have shared some great moments together, like going to Venice.

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