by Melinda Gallo

Dave woke up before me as usual today. I took over the bed and bundled myself up in the down comforter we brought from the States. Half-asleep, I listened to Dave go down the stairs and into the kitchen to make his morning cup of coffee. It's already Monday; time to get up and get the week started.

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The cold hasn't let up yet. For the last three months, the temperature has never gotten above 10°C (50°F) and is usually more around 3°C (37°F). Each day I hope it'll be warmer, but it ends up not being much different than the day before. Today, for example, it was overcast and a touch below zero (Celsius). I opened the glass doors that lead to the terrazza and quickly closed them. Just a small amount of air that I felt on my face made me not want to venture out any further.

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We woke up this morning with the sun shining in our bedroom and into our eyes. Most people have large green shades that they close at night to keep the sun out, but we welcome it even when it arrives early in the morning like today.

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Sometimes I forget that I live in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Sometimes I forget that people from all over the world dream of coming here. Sometimes I forget how much I love Florence. And sometimes I forget that Florence is my home.

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Living in Florence :: Una bella nevicata in città

It was the talk of the town today. Snow, snow, and more snow. I thought I saw snow yesterday, but today I was shown even more! The whole city was quiet and most people watched the bella nevicata (good snowfall) this morning from their apartments.

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Living in Florence :: Snowing in Florence?

Today was the first time it has snowed in Florence for probably many years. This morning when I went out, the sun was peeking through the clouds and it didn't seem particularly cold. As I was preparing lunch, the dark clouds started to arrive and then it just snowed; first a little and then a lot.

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I went to La Standa to pick up a few things today. I try not to go because of the long lines and high prices. "Hey, they've got tortilla bread here," an American girl yelled to her friend at the other end of the aisle. Not many people yell in grocery stores unless there's a fire or robbery. Even though Italians can be loud at times, they don't normally yell in enclosed public spaces unless it's at their kids and even then, not normally in front of other people.

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I met Debora downtown at the Edison bookstore in Piazza Repubblica this afternoon. After browsing all three floors, we purchased a few books. We decided to go and get a drink somewhere to just chat. She had told me about the bar at the top of "La Rinascente" (a department store) on the other side of the piazza.

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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.

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Today I went to a new mesticheria (household goods/hardware store) on via dell'Agnolo near our apartment. I've walked by before on my way to the market, but I usually go to a different mesticheria . The one I normally go to is so busy that you have to take a number and when you try to pay, you have to push your way through about 10 people to reach the cassa (cash register).

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After going to the market to pick up vegetables, fruit, meat, mozzarella (for pizza and for salad), and coffee, I thought about how Dave and I have created a new life with different routines than the one had before.

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We don't watch much TV any more, so we don't really see what's going on out in the world. We look at the news on the Internet, read the headlines, and believe we have a general view of what's going on in the world, but we don't. We don't even keep up with the local news either. I read some of the headlines when I go to the giornalaio (the newspaper vendor) when I buy a few magazines, but I don't keep myself very well informed any more.

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There is something very comforting about being recognized. I went into the bakery that makes the frittelle today. Each place I go to has their specialty that I love. One makes great schiacciata (Florentine flat bread), another makes tasty cenci (the baked cookies with powdered sugar on top), and this one makes frittelle (deep-fried rice dumplings).

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I went to my favorite Pasta vendor at the mercato and picked a number. There are always crowds of people there because the pasta is so delicious. The first time I went there by myself a signora told me to make sure I try the panzerottini. Since then, I get them about once a week!

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I didn't realize it was Chinese New Year until this morning when I went for my Reiki session. "Auguri!" Annunziata and Rossella each said as I arrived. They told me it was the "Anno nuovo tibetano" (the Tibetan New Year), so I didn't put it together that it was really the Chinese new year until a French friend of mine wished me the same in an email. After googling the Chinese new year on the web, I realized that it's the year of the rooster (l'anno del gallo). Hey...my last name is Gallo...does this make it my year?

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Today I went to a shop called "Via della Seta" (Silk Street). I've been wanting to go in because it's filled with Chinese silk items. Sometimes my own Chinese heritage decides to take a stand. I mean really...I can't just validate the Italian side all the time. I live here, I speak Italian, I eat Italian food...

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I normally avoid going to the bakery at lunch time. It's always so busy, but I thought I'd buy Dave some fritelle because he likes them so much from this one bakery that's on the way home from the market. I've gone to at least 10 different bakeries and this one has the best ones I've eaten so far. Not too much rice, not too heavy, and not too greasy. They only have them during the Carnevale, which ends in a few weeks.

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Today was the first day we had guests over for any meal. Our friends Steph, Erez, and their son Jonah came over to our place for brunch. I had a blast going shopping, straightening up the house, and preparing a meal for other people. I forgot how much fun it is to share a great American treat with others.

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Today I went to the market to buy another plant. It was a busy day as are most Saturdays. The people who don't normally go to the market come on Saturdays. And those who come early during the week, come later on Saturdays, so it seems that every booth is overly crowded.

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For once, I actually looked at the shops on Ponte Vecchio. It's odd, but when you live in a place you actually see less and less of the tourist places...and even the tourists.

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I made tiramisù for my friend Debora and her boyfriend Paolo yesterday. I found the recipe on the Internet and made it the last time I went to Debora's house for dinner. I am very lucky when it comes to picking recipes out. I had to make the tiramisù once before I could bring it to Debora's house the first time.

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The locker room at the gym is quite small, about 15 feet wide and 20 feet long. There are lockers all around the walls and two benches in the middle. Today there were four American girls getting dressed at opposite ends of the locker room and talking to each other over everyone's heads. I bowed my head and hoped they wouldn't notice my American deoderant or get a glimpse of me and ask me if I was American. I don't normally stand out as an American even in the States, but I was so embarrassed by how loud they were that I just quickly got into my gym clothes and ran out.

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