by Melinda Gallo

Che spettacolo!

I walked over to via delle Oche to have lunch with my new girlfriend. She wanted to take me to Coquinarius, which I like a lot. Afterwards, she invited me up to her apartment. I love seeing other people's apartments especially since I feel as if I've seen so many now. I was taken aback when I walked into the living room: the Duomo was so close that I couldn't see it all unless I walked out to her her balcone (balcony). I had never seen the Duomo this close before except when I went up the campanile (bell tower).

Living in Florence :: Che spettacolo!

My girlfriend has been here about 10 years, and somehow we began to talk about Florence and why we chose it. We both came here, fell in love with it, and just feel at home here. It is hard to explain to other people who don't feel the same way about where they live. I can't really define what it is about Florence that makes me feel at home.

I do know that there is another part of Florence that I truly adore: the people. Many of my Italian friends like the Florentines because they are giocosi (playful), but find them chiusi (closed). After being here for a few years now, I have to disagree with them. What comes across as chiusura (closure) is actually more diffidenza (distrust) of others. And, who can blame them? The number of tourists who come to Florence supposedly increases by about 5% a year. It's hard to be open to everyone and not feel some disappointment when they leave after you've developed a relationship with them.

I have learned to be patient and consistent with them. Even at the palestra (gym), I now speak to more and more people. They see me more often, and open up to me each day a little bit more.

One of the things I adore about the Florentines is their accent and the way in which they speak. The accent has a sweetness about it: they don't pronounce all their c's and sometimes not even their t's and they often say "sh" when it's "ch."

When a Florentine speaks Italian it tickles my heart. Something inside of me just melts. I hear the accent all the time and you'd think I'd be so used to it, but I still love it. All of my Florentine friends have the accent in varying degrees. I adore it when the accent is really strong, so strong that it's the first and sometimes the only thing you hear.

I often catch myself smiling when a Florentine speaks to me. They could be yelling at me or telling me that I'm grulla (mad/crazy), and yet I just can't help but enjoy hearing them speak. I guess to them that would make me grulla.

The Florentines are also quite vispi (lively). A trait that they appreciate in others too. They are very aware and street smart: you can't get anything past them. They are also orgogliosi (proud) of their city and of being Florentine.

The words they use are also superb. When I was first learning Italian, I didn't know what was Florentine and what was Italian. I hear the words all the time and assumed that everyone in Italy said the same thing. It wasn't until I met other Italians or went to other parts of Italy that certain words weren't as common in other parts of Italy. So if I said, "Che ganza questa macchina...come mi garba!" (This car is really cool...I like it!), anyone would know that I must live in Florence.

One last thing I love about the way the Florentines speak is just the way the words roll off their tongues. I wish I could record a few of them speaking together because there is something really unique to their speech patterns that I find so appealing. You have to hear them to understand what I mean.

So, I honestly could never imagine myself living anywhere else in Italy because any time I leave Florence, I miss their voices swirling around me. And, the minute I come back and hear a Florentine speak, my heart melts. For me, the Florentines make Florence the city I love and the city I love to be a part of. I sometimes feel like a schoolgirl talking about her first crush, but č pių forte di me (it's stronger than me). And now I don't feel alone with my new girlfriend who feels much the same.

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