by Melinda Gallo

This morning I decided to venture out and go to the market. Saturday morning is probably the worst time ever to go, but because Dave was going to leave for a week to Germany, I decided to get myself some things that Dave doesn't eat, like melanzane (eggplant), pancetta (bacon), and pesce (fish).

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With the past few weeks of capricious weather, I think that summer has finally arrived. Every day we didn't know whether to wear a jacket, to bring an umbrella, or to take our sunglasses when we went out. But, now I think the weather has changed for good.

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I spoke to a friend of mine Massimo who lives in Rome. He knows how much I love Florence. He tried to get me to move to Rome when I first moved to Florence, but I wouldn't budge. But when I told him that I finally made it to Venice and loved it, he told me, "A tutti gli americani piacciono Firenze e Venezia!" (All Americans love Florence and Venice!)

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I admit it. I'm a huge perfectionist. I can't bare to stop learning. A lot of my friends think I'm nuts because I don't want to make any mistakes in Italian. I figure that I don't make mistakes in English or French, so why should I let myself off the hook for Italian? Besides, with my last name, it's almost a disgrace!

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Since we've arrived here, I've been cooking almost all Italian dishes. Different kinds of pasta and meats that I never made back in the US. I buy different ingredients and make my own sugo (tomato sauce with meat) and try out recipes quite a bit. I absolutely love to cook. Before, Dave and I would take turns and now I pretty much do all of the cooking.

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I haven't subscribed to a magazine since I was in high school and sent away for "Teen" magazine. When I was in college, I had no time or desire to read anything that wasn't assigned to me. In Paris, I picked magazines up at the kiosks when I walked by them. And while I was back in the US, I only bought magazines while standing in line at the supermarket.

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I met up with my friend Yoshie as she went to her doctor's office (which is around the corner from our apartment). I'm just about to get my tessera all'ASL (Italian national health plan card) and I wanted to see what her doctor was like before I pick her. In Italy, you have to pick a doctor who will be your "family doctor".

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Living in Florence :: Saying goodbye...for now

We woke up to a beautiful, clear, and sunny day. We had breakfast at an outside bar in the campo near our house. We walked through the calli (alleys/narrow passages) and out to the Canal Grande to look at it one more time. As we walked around the church, the bells of San Marco chimed so cheerfully.

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Today we woke up to grey skies. As enamored as I was with Venice, I completely overlooked the weather. We went outside and visited more of the city to take as much of it in as possible. I tried to imprint pictures in my mind so that I could take pieces of Venice with me forever.

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Living in Florence :: Arriving in the city of sighs

We arrived at the Santa Lucia train station in Venice a little before noon today. This is the first time I had ever come to Venice and I wasn't sure what to expect. I've seen many photos of Venice, of the canals, and of the Carnevale. And everyone I know said it was beautiful, but too touristy. But I wanted to see it with my own eyes.

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Friends of ours, like Marta, Yoshie and Luigi, asked to see pictures of our house in the US. They wanted to know if our house was anything like what they see in American TV series that they are inundated with here. We had a few on our computer, so we showed them.

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For those people who would be interested in seeing a few interesting areas in Florence, like the Ponte Vecchio, the Arno, and a view of Florence from the hills that surround the city. I found two websites that allow you to do just that.

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It only takes one little change to bring about greater changes, they say. Today, I went to the market and I wasn't my usual passive self. At times, I feel a bit intimidated (or maybe judged by some), so I keep quiet, remain polite, and go about my day.

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I have always thought my niece JJ was born lucky. A few days before she and her parents arrived, it rained even though the weather had been pretty nice for a week. The day they arrived, it was sunny with clear skies. And that was how each day was during their trip here.

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I wish I could've seen Florence through my niece's six-year-old eyes. She has travelled quite a bit, going to different states like Hawaii, Florida, and Utah. But, this was her first visit to Europe. And Florence as her first European city to visit.

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It was odd going back to the market to buy food today. Dave and I had been eating out so much that we almost forgot what it was like before our guests arrived. We ate almost every lunch and every dinner in a different restaurant. Now, we have a short list of our favorites.

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Today was our last meal together with my sister, brother-in-law, and niece. After eating almost every lunch and dinner together, we decided to have one last meal together before they took off. We met at their apartment and walked over to find a place to have breakfast in Piazza della Signoria at an outdoor café.

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After two glorious days in Monterosso, we checked out of the hotel and went to the train station to find out the train schedule. I went up to the counter to talk to the woman about when we could get on a train back to Florence. She said it'd be faster to take one train to La Spezia, then an "Intercity" train (instead of a regional one that stops at every station) from La Spezia to Pisa, and finally one direct to Florence.

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Our first trip outside of Florence began early in the morning. We went to Monterosso, the farthest north town in the Cinque Terre on the Ligurian coast. Dave and I haven't been out of Florence since we moved here last November. We couldn't wait to go.

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My sister, her husband, and my niece JJ arrived on Tuesday afternoon. We sat outside on the terrace of a bar, waiting for them. It's the first time they've been to Florence while I'm living here. Only my mom ever came to Florence to visit me when I was living here in 1997-1999.

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