by Melinda Gallo

Greeting people in my neighborhood

One of the things I enjoy about living in Florence is that if I ever run into an acquaintance in the street I'm certain that he or she will greet me. In the ten months that we've lived in this neighborhood, I have met the people who work in the different shops especially at the macelleria (butcher shop), the two forni (bakeries), the two fruttivendoli (greengrocers), and the mesticheria (household goods/hardware store) on via dei Neri.

I have also been a customer to other shops only once or twice, like the lavanderia a secco (dry cleaner's), and they too greet me even if we cross paths on the street or if they're outside of their shop and they see me.

It doesn't even matter how much time passes as they seem to never forget a face. I went into a shop at the end of the street to buy solette (insoles) for my shoes over a month ago and just the other day I was walking in the street and I saw the guy who helped me. He was going in the opposite direction, but he still smiled at me and said, "Ciao."

I already know that you have to go to a shop at least once or twice for the patrons to recognize me and be even friendlier to me. I know that they see thousands of people who come once and never return, so I have come to realize that they prefer long-term acquaintances instead of just a single quick connection.

I personally enjoy walking down the street and looking into a shop where I know the owner and say hello to him or her. It's sweet when the older man who works in mesticheria, pokes his head outside when he sees me and says, "Ciao bella" to me. I feel as if we are more like family in a certain sense. I already feel at home in Florence for many reasons, but these friendly hellos from people I know warms my heart.

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