by Melinda Gallo

There is something very comforting about being recognized. I went into the bakery that makes the frittelle today. Each place I go to has their specialty that I love. One makes great schiacciata (Florentine flat bread), another makes tasty cenci (the baked cookies with powdered sugar on top), and this one makes frittelle (deep-fried rice dumplings).

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I went to my favorite Pasta vendor at the mercato and picked a number. There are always crowds of people there because the pasta is so delicious. The first time I went there by myself a signora told me to make sure I try the panzerottini. Since then, I get them about once a week!

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I didn't realize it was Chinese New Year until this morning when I went for my Reiki session. "Auguri!" Annunziata and Rossella each said as I arrived. They told me it was the "Anno nuovo tibetano" (the Tibetan New Year), so I didn't put it together that it was really the Chinese new year until a French friend of mine wished me the same in an email. After googling the Chinese new year on the web, I realized that it's the year of the rooster (l'anno del gallo). Hey...my last name is Gallo...does this make it my year?

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Today I went to a shop called "Via della Seta" (Silk Street). I've been wanting to go in because it's filled with Chinese silk items. Sometimes my own Chinese heritage decides to take a stand. I mean really...I can't just validate the Italian side all the time. I live here, I speak Italian, I eat Italian food...

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I normally avoid going to the bakery at lunch time. It's always so busy, but I thought I'd buy Dave some fritelle because he likes them so much from this one bakery that's on the way home from the market. I've gone to at least 10 different bakeries and this one has the best ones I've eaten so far. Not too much rice, not too heavy, and not too greasy. They only have them during the Carnevale, which ends in a few weeks.

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Today was the first day we had guests over for any meal. Our friends Steph, Erez, and their son Jonah came over to our place for brunch. I had a blast going shopping, straightening up the house, and preparing a meal for other people. I forgot how much fun it is to share a great American treat with others.

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Today I went to the market to buy another plant. It was a busy day as are most Saturdays. The people who don't normally go to the market come on Saturdays. And those who come early during the week, come later on Saturdays, so it seems that every booth is overly crowded.

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For once, I actually looked at the shops on Ponte Vecchio. It's odd, but when you live in a place you actually see less and less of the tourist places...and even the tourists.

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I made tiramisų for my friend Debora and her boyfriend Paolo yesterday. I found the recipe on the Internet and made it the last time I went to Debora's house for dinner. I am very lucky when it comes to picking recipes out. I had to make the tiramisų once before I could bring it to Debora's house the first time.

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The locker room at the gym is quite small, about 15 feet wide and 20 feet long. There are lockers all around the walls and two benches in the middle. Today there were four American girls getting dressed at opposite ends of the locker room and talking to each other over everyone's heads. I bowed my head and hoped they wouldn't notice my American deoderant or get a glimpse of me and ask me if I was American. I don't normally stand out as an American even in the States, but I was so embarrassed by how loud they were that I just quickly got into my gym clothes and ran out.

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As I was leaving the hair salon, with all my bottles of lavendar oil, herbal tea, shampoo, and conditioner, the girl at the front desk decided to also put some make-up on me as a special treat. She probably put on more than I would normally feel comfortable with. I had pink plastic, shiny lips the kind that my husband detests. The ones that look like you could just take it all off in one piece. All I could think of was I'm sure I have some Kleenex in my purse to wipe this off before I get home. Dave would probably freak out if he saw me.

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Sunday is the worst day to ever channel hop in Italy. Luckily, we have satellite TV, but for old time's sake, I thought I'd take a look at what mostly everyone else watches. Well, no one admits to watching these TV shows (none of my friends would ever say that they even turn on the TV on a Sunday afternoon), so I wonder who really does watch these variety shows that last hours and hours.

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The Post Office in Italy is more than just a place where you send and pick up packages. It's also a bank and a place where you can pay all of your bills, like those for water, electricity, phone, gas, and even Satellite TV.

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Today was not a day we wanted to be outside. It was a little cloudy and windy and the temperature was around 0°C. I met Dave on Ponte Vecchio this afternoon and we went looking for a restaurant to have lunch. It was so cold that when we saw a small scarf vendor, we decided to buy ourselves scarves. There were two American girls looking at all the scarves, picking through them one by one and asking the price of each one.

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