by Melinda Gallo

Election Night at Saschall

At around half past eight last night, three of my girlfriends and I piled into a taxi as the rain was pouring outside. We were taken along the Lungarno to go to Saschall where the Election Night 2008, organized by the Tuscan American Association, was being held. When we arrived outside, we could already hear the music playing. We walked toward the entrance where there were two lines of carabinieri (military policemen) standing guard. We walked inside the building and were greeted by crowds of Americans and Italians.

Living in Florence :: Election Night at Saschall

When I first heard about the event I wasn't convinced that I wanted to go, but as the days went by I felt more confident about the elections. I have never celebrated the presidential elections before, but this year I felt that I wanted to be with other Americans in the hopes of marking a momentous occasion in our history.

The entire room was decorated in red, white, and blue. A balloon collage representing the American flag was floating above our heads in the theater. Numerous banchi (stands) were lined up along the outer wall of the theater for different organizations, companies, and restaurants. The first banco was for the Democrats Abroad in Florence where people were purchasing buttons, t-shirts, and posters. I picked up a button for me and my friends. At some of the other banchi, we were offered food and drink.

DIfferent musical groups performed from the palcoscenico (stage) in the middle of the theater. As the evening progressed, so did the music. Different bands came out to play: R&B, Rock and Roll, and country. On the two sides of the palcoscenico were two screens where CNN was being shown after midnight.

A few giornalisti (journalists) from local TV stations were walking around interviewing people. The first one, from Rai Tre, came up to me and said, "Posso farle qualche domanda? Can I ask you a few questions?" But once we stood there in front of the camera, he asked me his questions in English. I was startled at first, but didn't want to switch back to Italian. He asked me how long I've lived in Florence, where I'm from and if I thought Obama could win the election. My response to his last question was, "Without a doubt."

The other giornalista from Toscana TV spoke to me in Italian and asked me if I thought that Obama could win in California. I said yes, and then he said, "Ma avete un governatore republicano. But you have a Republic governor." "Sì, ma Obama vincerà in California lo stesso. Yes, but Obama will win in California anyway."

They showed the results of the voting they held for the Election Night and over 80% of the participants voted for Obama. Loud cheers were made when the number was shown on the two screens.

Alessandro joined us at around 11pm, and we left after the first results for Kentucky and Indiana came in. I knew that I couldn't stay up until 4 am while the results slowly filtered in.

At 5:30 am, my friend Kendra sent me an sms that said that Obama had won. I jumped out of bed and turned on the television to see the results. I was so happy that I started to cry. Alessandro came down and we watched Obama give his first discorso (speech) as the president elect of the USA.

We went back to sleep for a short while and when we woke back up, the sun was shining brightly in Florence. I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day after such a positive result to our elections.

In the end, the Rai Tre interview was shown during the local news, but I don't get that channel, so I was unable to see it. A few of my friends were surprised to see me and called me up to tell me about it. Each one asked me the same thing, "Perché non hai parlato in italiano? Why didn't you speak in Italian."

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