by Melinda Gallo

Capodanno cinese

For some reason, I have been awaiting the end of the Chinese year of the Dog as if to find some respite even though I haven't had a particularly bad year. It might also have been because I met with a Tibetan sciamana (shaman) last year along with her Italian interpreter who told me that nothing good will happen for me until 2007, in the anno del maiale (year of the pig). The pig is the symbol of fortuna e abbondanza (fortune and abundance) and it's also the maiale d'oro (golden pig), which is supposedly even better.

I asked a Debora and Paolo to come out with us to celebrate by eating Chinese food tonight. Unfortunately, they don't like Chinese food that much, so we went to my second favorite Chinese restaurant in Florence. They invited a friend of theirs Manuela and her boyfriend Davide.

I did invite a few other friends of mine, but unfortunately none of them were unable to join us. I had never met Debora and Paolo's friend Manuela, who is from Rome, but they talked to me about her enough that I felt I knew her already.

I wanted to buy red envelopes and put money in them for my friends, but after yesterday's escapades, I decided that I'd only walk out my front door to go to dinner tonight.

We met up at the Chinese restaurant behind the Mercato Centrale. I was introduced to this restaurant by a friend of mine, and I was quite pleased. We started with ravioli al vapore (steamed dumplings) and involtini primavera (spring rolls). We ordered at least one dish each plus rice and vegetables. I finished off my meal with banana caramellata (caramelized banana). Everyone else wanted to go get a gelato, so I took them to Grom.

We walked past San Lorenzo where the streets without all the bancarelle (stalls) were beautiful. I haven't seen the empty streets in this area in a long time. Usually, it's crowded and messy and I don't like it much, but at night, it's amazingly beautiful.

The streets around the Duomo were busy with people walking around. Some of the younger kids were sitting at bars or standing outside, smoking cigarettes while other couples were just out to fare due passi (go for a walk) like us.

Debora and Paolo are both from Florence, but don't live downtown, so they are always quite amazed when I show them new places downtown. Even though it was cold outside, we ate our gelati inside the gelateria (ice cream shop). Afterwards, we parted ways in front of the Duomo. They walked back toward Mercato Centrale and we walked down via dei Servi to our place.

It was fun to celebrate the beginning of the new year...and I hope it'll be a prosperous one for everybody!

Tanti auguri! (Best wishes!)

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