by Melinda Gallo

Three month anniversary

It's been three months since we arrived in Florence. Our life here seems quite habitual and normal. We see our friends, we eat out, we go to movies, we shop, we walk downtown, and we enjoy our life here looking out on the city rooftops from our desks.

Each day, I feel like I fit in even more. My Italian seems to flow much easier and I can switch back and forth quite simply and easily. Today, I went to buy some chocolate for Dave and a few friends at my favorite place (where I usually get the cioccolata calda con pepperoncino and I did end up getting one while I was there!). The guy who I think is the capo (boss) began talking to me and used Lei, the formal "you". And before, I could even think about it, I blurted, "Dammi del tu." (Address me with the familiar you.)

Because he didn't acknowledge my request, I thought maybe I had insulted him. But, he's younger than me and I've been in there at least ten or twenty times by now. As I left, when he said, "Grazie," I responded, "Grazie a te."

As I walked away, I wondered if I'd made a blunder. I know that in France, you would never use the informal form of you if you don't know the person. But, here in Florence I know that it's acceptable. In Milan, when we were there for a few days in October, they're even more formal than the Florentines and almost always use Lei to anyone they don't know. In the hotel in Milan, the man used "Loro" (which is the plural form of the formal "you" that I didn't even know anyone used at all in Italy).

In the end, I remembered the old expression (somewhat modified) "When in Florence, do as the Florentines."

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