by Melinda Gallo

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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For the last 3 years I have avoided this holiday. I looked away when I saw the cards in the grocery store, the signs in all the shop windows, and the advertisements in all the magazines. With my mom not here, I've felt it was just one more reminder each year that she was no longer with me. So this year, I decided to treat today a bit differently.

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I went to the erboristeria (herbalist's shop) today to pick up some natural remedies a friend of mine told me to get for my eczema. I ordered them on Monday and the woman told me to come back on Friday afternoon. The shop was already closed when I arrived, so I had to go back this morning.

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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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