by Melinda Gallo

Tonight we went to my friend Simone's restaurant for sushi. They have a Japanese sushi chef that works here every Wednesday. Dave and I were a bit hesitant since the best sushi we ever had was near our house at Mikuni's. But, it's been almost a month since we've had sushi and Adriana and her boyfriend Alberto wanted to come and we never say no to sushi.

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I will never forget this evening. The installers from SKY television came to set up the satellite dish out on the terrace. No more argumentative talk shows with no resolution, no more slap-stick comedy on variety shows that last entire afternoons, no more 70's and 80's American TV series (like Murder She Wrote and MacGyver), and no more watching Italian soap operas because they're the only programs with subtitles.

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Dave left for school early this morning to learn Italian with my old teacher, Gianluca. It was great being in the house alone. I got to read and write in bed, drink my orange juice, and just take it slow relishing in my time at home sola soletta (by myself).

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When we were with Simone the other day, he told me that we should go to the "Coop" (which Florentines call "la Ho-op") supermarket instead of "La Standa." He said the prices are better and there is more of a selection too. It's on the other size of Piazza Beccaria, which has two lights to go across.

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Another cold day and we don't want to go outside. We open all the curtains and the sky is blue, but we know it's cold out there. We turn on the heaters and drink our coffees. Today, I decided to make an oven pancake that we both love.

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Well, our first trip to "I Gigli," the indoor mall in Sesto-Fiorentino (a suburb of Florence). We stood at Piazza Beccaria, waiting for Luigi, Yoshie, and Davide to pick us up. They arrived in their minivan and we jumped in.

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My friend Yoshie is Japanese and has been living in Florence ever since we met at Italian school 7 years ago. Since then she has been here living with her husband, Luigi, and their 5-year old son, Davide. Luigi is from another region of Italy, called Puglia. So between them, they each have a different accent. Yoshie's accent is Japanese, Luigi's is Pugliese and Davide's is Fiorentino.

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We were fortunate enough to get invited to two Thanksgivings this year, but unfortunately we could only go to one. We accepted the first invitation at Steph and Erez's place, so we went to Kristen's place for aperitivo (appetizers).

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Tonight I met Debora at the Cibrčo bar for a drink. The Cibrčo restaurant, not the bar where we met, is well known by tourists as a "must go to" restaurant when they come to Florence. She ordered a cappuccino and I ordered a Bloody Mary. When they brought us a plate with bowls containing three types of olives and a few pizzettine (small pizzas) for us to enjoy, we burst out laughing. Who has a cappuccino with an aperitivo?

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This morning we got up early to go to the Questura (police station) to give them our visas and other documents to receive our permessi di soggiorno (permits to stay). Our first stop was to the Italian insurance company to pay our annual fee for medical coverage.

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Simone, my friend and our landlord, told us that we could go to IKEA the Monday after we arrived. I certainly didn't hold him to it since plans made can always be broken, especially ones from over a month ago!

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I have finally gotten in contact with pretty much all of my friends to tell them that we're back. Many don't yet believe me since we arrived in September for 6 weeks and I told them all we'd be coming back in November. "Vedremo," (We'll see...) many said to me. I knew we were coming back, but they wanted to make sure and wouldn't make plans with me until I did. Surprise!

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We woke up at 4AM and sat in front of our computers in the dark. Jet lag is a killer! Dave can't stand staying in bed, which is the size of a shoebox, when he's not sleeping. I try to talk myself back into sleeping, but most of the time I don't succeed, so I end up getting up as well.

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We are finally relaxing after the long trip and the stress from packing our suitcases the night before we took off. We didn't know for certain if everything we had at my sister's house was really going to fit. And in the end, we had to leave Dave's camera case there.

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One of my friends, Simone, has just opened up a new restaurant called "Il Canapone" near Santo Spirito and asked us if we'd like to rent his apartment for about a year. We found a few we liked, but his we just loved. It's so warm, cozy, and modern and has a beautiful little terrace with many plants and flowers (which I hope will survive our stay here since I don't have a green thumb). The kitchen is my favorite part, with stainless steel countertops and glass doors on the cabinets.

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