by Melinda Gallo

I do so many things almost on auto-pilot here nowadays without even thinking twice. I go to many places, like the market, the cleaner's, the post office (to pay bills and to buy stamps), the gym, and most stores and am able to communicate properly. Today was different; I went to the sarta (seamstress) to have her make some drapes for me.

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This morning it was raining when I woke up. I thought it was going to be a melancholic day, but then within a few hours, the sky cleared up and the sun came out. I decided to seize the day while the sun was out. I'd been staying at home a lot since Dave left, not really wanting to or needing to go out.

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Living overseas has many advantages, but the greatest inconvenience is receiving bad news about loved ones. I received an email this morning that my grandmother had passed away yesterday afternoon. There's no other way for me to find out except by email or phone. I'm happy it was an email where I felt that I could react naturally without trying to hold myself together on the phone.

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Today I woke up to a blaring television. It sounded like Sunday mass and I think I heard the new pope speak for the first time. Most Sundays I can hear mass a little bit, but because one of the windows in our apartment was open, it sounded like it was coming from our TV.

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This morning I decided to venture out and go to the market. Saturday morning is probably the worst time ever to go, but because Dave was going to leave for a week to Germany, I decided to get myself some things that Dave doesn't eat, like melanzane (eggplant), pancetta (bacon), and pesce (fish).

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With the past few weeks of capricious weather, I think that summer has finally arrived. Every day we didn't know whether to wear a jacket, to bring an umbrella, or to take our sunglasses when we went out. But, now I think the weather has changed for good.

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I spoke to a friend of mine Massimo who lives in Rome. He knows how much I love Florence. He tried to get me to move to Rome when I first moved to Florence, but I wouldn't budge. But when I told him that I finally made it to Venice and loved it, he told me, "A tutti gli americani piacciono Firenze e Venezia!" (All Americans love Florence and Venice!)

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I admit it. I'm a huge perfectionist. I can't bare to stop learning. A lot of my friends think I'm nuts because I don't want to make any mistakes in Italian. I figure that I don't make mistakes in English or French, so why should I let myself off the hook for Italian? Besides, with my last name, it's almost a disgrace!

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Since we've arrived here, I've been cooking almost all Italian dishes. Different kinds of pasta and meats that I never made back in the US. I buy different ingredients and make my own sugo (tomato sauce with meat) and try out recipes quite a bit. I absolutely love to cook. Before, Dave and I would take turns and now I pretty much do all of the cooking.

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I haven't subscribed to a magazine since I was in high school and sent away for "Teen" magazine. When I was in college, I had no time or desire to read anything that wasn't assigned to me. In Paris, I picked magazines up at the kiosks when I walked by them. And while I was back in the US, I only bought magazines while standing in line at the supermarket.

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I met up with my friend Yoshie as she went to her doctor's office (which is around the corner from our apartment). I'm just about to get my tessera all'ASL (Italian national health plan card) and I wanted to see what her doctor was like before I pick her. In Italy, you have to pick a doctor who will be your "family doctor".

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Living in Florence :: Saying goodbye...for now

We woke up to a beautiful, clear, and sunny day. We had breakfast at an outside bar in the campo near our house. We walked through the calli (alleys/narrow passages) and out to the Canal Grande to look at it one more time. As we walked around the church, the bells of San Marco chimed so cheerfully.

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Today we woke up to grey skies. As enamored as I was with Venice, I completely overlooked the weather. We went outside and visited more of the city to take as much of it in as possible. I tried to imprint pictures in my mind so that I could take pieces of Venice with me forever.

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Living in Florence :: Arriving in the city of sighs

We arrived at the Santa Lucia train station in Venice a little before noon today. This is the first time I had ever come to Venice and I wasn't sure what to expect. I've seen many photos of Venice, of the canals, and of the Carnevale. And everyone I know said it was beautiful, but too touristy. But I wanted to see it with my own eyes.

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Friends of ours, like Marta, Yoshie and Luigi, asked to see pictures of our house in the US. They wanted to know if our house was anything like what they see in American TV series that they are inundated with here. We had a few on our computer, so we showed them.

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