by Melinda Gallo

This morning I woke up to find that I'd been bitten at least 20 times by mosquitoes. I learned the word zanzara (mosquito) this morning when I showed Signora G. my arm. She told me to go to the farmacia (pharmacy) to get something. I think she tried to explain what to get, but I didn't understand everything. I also decided this morning that I have to find a palestra (gym) because I can't take all this pasta every day.

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As I walked up the steps to go to school, I could hear the keys jangle in my pocket. This morning, Signora G. (the ex-wife/mother) gave me a set of keys and explained how I'm supposed to lock the door when I leave and then lock it when I arrive. Of course, I only understood her because she opened the door, led me outside, shut the door behind us, and then locked it. Then, after unlocking the door, we walked back into the apartment and she shut and locked the door again.

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Today it was full carnevale mode at the mercato this morning. Lots of people were rushing around to the banconi (counters) to get fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and even confetti. Some of the venditori (vendors) were even dressed up in different costumes. I thought of bringing my camera to the mercato, but the weather was cold and grey.

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When we were in Rome and Sorrento last week, we met a lot of people who were curious as to why we were living in Florence. I thought it would be obvious seeing as though Florence is quite charming. But, most of the Italians we met said that Florence was too touristy, and that bella ma sporca (it's beautiful, but dirty). Although everyone did say that Florence is una citt a misura d'uomo (a city on a human scale).

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After eating a lot of pesce (fish), calamari, and polpo (octopus) this weekend in Sorrento, I didn't think I'd be up for eating any more pesce. But, yesterday morning we realized that it had been a long time since we last ate sushi. After I called to make reservations at Il Canapone, I couldn't help but think about it all day.

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Today I couldn't wait to go to the mercato. I hadn't been since last week. Because we've been away from home, I haven't been able to do the two things I love the most: shop for food and cook. It was raining outside, but that didn't stop me from going to the mercato.

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We expected to only work until about 3PM in Rome, but we didn't end up leaving the office until 7PM. I was afraid to leave too early because everyone at the company told me that we'd be stuck in traffic. They suggested that we take a taxi to the metropolitana (subway) and then take that to the stazione (train station).

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Living in Florence :: From Sorrento to Rome

The meeting (conference) has been fun, but exhausting. Unfortunately, we didn't get to leave the hotel during the day because so much was going on during the meeting. The only photos I took were from the bus as we drove back to Rome, so it's not the best, but you can still see the costa Sorrentina (Sorrento coast) as we drove toward Napoli. And, you can see the clouds I was talking about that creep over the hill and head west out over the sea.

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Living in Florence :: Sorrento from afar

Today we attended an all-day meeting (conference) with almost 600 other participants. I was able to take a few pictures outside from the hotel's balcony. The picture I took here we can see Vesuvio in the distance. They predicted rain for the entire weekend, but we haven't seen a drop. We could see the sun in the distance, but grey clouds quickly came over the hill behind the hotel and moved toward Vesuvio.

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The company that we're both working for in Rome has invited us to a meeting in Sorrento. We were surprised when the CEO handed us the invitation when we had lunch the first day we arrived in Rome last week. At first, I thought that maybe he was just being nice, but didn't really think we'd come. I asked Massimo who told us that we were definitely invited. Since he was coming too, we decided to join them.

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After working almost eleven hours last Friday, the CEO invited us and a few other people from the company to dinner and a show at one of his hotels in southern Rome. We didn't leave the office until about 9PM. Since the office is in the north and the CEO's hotel is in the south, one of the other guys at the company drove all five of us down.

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As we board our Eurostar train to go to Rome it was beginning to drizzle. When we arrived at the door to our carrozza (car), I couldn't help but notice the people standing outside the doors smoking cigarettes. I had to hold my breath before I got on so I wouldn't breathe in all their smoke. In our carrozza, the seats were filled with men in suits carrying brief cases in one hand and a cell phone wedged up to their ears with the other hand.

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For il San Valentino (Saint Valentine's day), Dave and I decided to eat at Il Canapone, my friend Simone's restaurant. We were thinking about staying home or going to a restaurant that is closer to our apartment, but despite the freezing cold weather, we walked down to Santo Spirito for a delicious meal.

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The only sound I heard from my cell phone within the last 24 hours was my phone's alarm ringing at 7AM. Before I fell asleep last night, I went through my suitcase and was comforted by what I found: blank notebooks, a portable CD player, a few CDs, one book ("Women Who Run with Wolves"), and my running shoes, which would prove to bring me the most comfort.

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Living in Florence :: Enchanted and exhausted

Dave and I got a taxi ride from the northern area of Rome, Cassia, to the Termini train station. We went to the deposito bagagli to drop off our luggage so that we could visit Rome. We ended up not checking in our portable computers after I saw the men throw the luggage onto carts to take them downstairs. So, unfortunately we had to lug them around town with us all day.

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I feel like we're working for a startup company where we're putting in lots of hours and everything has to be done urgently. We walked to the office from our hotel, which is only a block away, and for lunch they had pizza brought in for us along with beer, soda, and water. Our desk turned into the lunch table so we didn't even have to move one inch.

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Living in Florence :: Work by day, Rome by night

This morning we went to Rome to work at one of our client's offices for a few days. We got a call a few weeks ago to work with a friend of ours, Massimo, on a project of his in Rome. We jumped at the offer as we thought it would be fun to go somewhere else to work for a few days. We took an early morning Eurostar to Rome, which only took an hour and a half from Florence, and then a half hour taxi ride to an area called Cassia.

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Living in Florence :: Supermercati e alimentari

I love to go to the mercato (market) and I love shopping for food. The only problem is that our refrigerator is only twice as big as the one I had in my dorm room way back when. The one thing I don't like about the mercato is that I can't just look around at everything that is available. When I go to the macellaio (butcher), I have to tell him exactly what I want and how much of it. The same is true for each of the vendors at the mercato where I buy cheese, pasta, bread, and pastries.

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So many things happened in 1997 that prompted me to come to Florence. I had visited Florence only once with an ex-boyfriend. He, eleven of his friends, and I rented a villa in Umbria for a week. My ex and I flew to Milano and rented a car to drive down to the villa. We didn't drive directly to Umbria, we first spent a few days at Lago di Como, had lunch in Parma, and then stayed a few nights in Bologna.

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A little after 1PM, I went to the mercato (market) today. I generally avoid going on Saturdays because it's usually quite busy. I went to my macellaio (butcher) and he looked overwhelmed by all the people standing in front of the counter. There were so many people that I decided to go to the gastronomia (cheese/milk vendor) while the crowds died down.

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Today, I finally got together with my friend Martina and the other two guys, Taccone and Gabriele, who used to work at the marble shop where I worked back in 1998. I walked past their laboratorio (workshop) back in October before our trip to the States and I promised that I'd be back sometime for lunch. They told me where Martina was working and I finally got around to going to her new place of work a few weeks ago.

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Today our new donna delle pulizie (cleaning lady), Giovanna, came today for the first time to clean the house. She came by Monday for us to meet and for her to look at the house. She's a sweet Italian woman who I'm liked the second I met her. I was happy that I finally found a donna delle pulizie after at least 6 months after the other one left us.

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Living in Florence :: Museo di Palazzo Davanzati

I walked to via Porta Rossa, near the Mercato Nuovo, to visit a noble family's 14th century palazzo (palace), the Museo di Palazzo Davanzati. Dave and I generally walk right past the palazzo on our way to the Odeon movie theaters, but we never stopped by for a visit. It's not that noticeable as it looks like many of the other palazzi in Florence.

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