by Melinda Gallo

I never realized how long the month of August could be. Many of my friends, like Simone, have still not returned and a few shops and restaurants have still not reopened. After the ferragosto (August 15th), I thought that the city would quickly come back alive, but it hasn't yet. The last of the holiday-makers should be returning this Saturday and Florence will be back to normal.

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When I was a little girl, our family owned an ice cream/gift shop that later became a sandwich shop. My mother taught me to always wash my hands after touching money and before touching food. In the US, I feel that people follow these rules quite rigorously; however, in Italy I'm a little perplexed here as sometimes hands are washed and other times not.

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This morning, I had to wake up early to go get a few esami di sangue (blood tests) done. I had, of course, gone to the laboratorio (laboratory) yesterday to get information before I came in for the esami di sangue. The woman told me that I had to arrive digiuno (with an empty stomach) between 7:30AM and 10AM.

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Now that I have gone to two palestre (gyms) in downtown Florence this year, I feel that I have enough information to come to a few conclusions. I have been going to one palestra near my house all year and have rejoined my old palestra for the month of August because mine was closed for ferie (holidays).

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We were awakened this morning at around 6AM by flashes of lightning and the clamor of thunder. It was so loud that I thought a it was something much worse. The previsioni del tempo (weather forecast) has been predicting temporali (thunderstorms) almost every day last week, but they never came. Then, today after supposedly more people returned to Florence from their summer holidays, the temporali welcomed them back.

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This morning I went to the punto prelievi/analisi (samples/analysis laboratory) where my dottoressa (doctor) told me to drop off the sample to get tested. I had to carry the sample in my purse and drop them off at the laboratory, which is across the street from my palestra (gym).

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The city is filling up with locals again, but not as many as I'd thought at first. The mercato is a little busier, but mostly all I've seen are tourists. I rarely see tourists at my mercato because it's a little out of the way. But, seeing as though there are only two mercati in town, it makes sense that they come and visit it.

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I heard about il rientro (the re-entry) on TV and how hundreds of thousands of people left for or returned from their vacations this weekend. I didn't think it was going to be noticeable in Florence because so many people had left and I thought it'd be a wash.

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Living in Florence :: Busy, busy, busy

As quiet as it is in my neighborhood, it is that much busier in centro (downtown) in the main touristic loop, which is the area that goes from the Duomo down via Calzaiuoli past Piazza della Signora and then on to the Ponte Vecchio. Then, it loops back around Piazza Repubblica and back toward the Duomo. I love this entire area and today it seemed even busier.

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Living in Florence :: Che spettacolo!

I had wanted to see Roberto Benigni in his one-man show Tutto Dante for a while now. A few friends of mine wanted to come, but then couldn't make it. Then, I was going to go by myself, but that didn't appeal to me.

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I read a post about how the woman in charge of Italian citizenships at my Italian Consulate in the US is no longer working there. I had just got a document that she requested a few weeks ago and sent it to her. I emailed her to ask her if she got it, and I didn't receive a response. I figured she might be on vacation, but not that she's no longer working there. Now that means that probably no one will be working on these files (mine and many others).

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Living in Florence :: Teatro Romano di Fiesole

Even though Dave and I are still working on this Italian holiday, Ferragosto (Assumption Day), we decided to fare un giro (take a trip) to Fiesole this afternoon. We haven't seen Luigi, Yoshie, and their two boys, Davide and Lorenzo, in months. Because Luigi is from Puglia, they usually go there for the summer, but they came back to Florence last Saturday.

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Living in Florence :: Cloisters of San Lorenzo

After a quick morning rainfall, the sky cleared a little and the sun shone brightly. The air was still cool outside when I walked to San Lorenzo this afternoon to meet a few friends for lunch. I walked down Borgo degli Albizi, in front of the Duomo, and down Borgo San Lorenzo to my destination.

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Tonight we had dinner with our friend Marco who is staying in Siena with his family for a few weeks. We haven't seen Marco since we went to Munich last November. He's been living there for almost a year now where he's learning German, which he said was quite complicated, and teaching Italian. We took him to a new restaurant, Osteria delle brache da Andrea, that one of my blog buddies, Rhonda, told me about during her visit here to Florence last month.

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I haven't written much about the mercato that I go to a few times every week because for a while everything remained the same. I kept going to my vendors, like the macellaio (butcher) and ortolana (fruit and vegetable vendor). But suddenly, many things have changed at the mercato and not just because it's summer.

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I have always loved mixing a fruit gelato, like mango, with a creamy gelato, like crema or fior di latte. When I go to the Gelateria dei Neri, that's what I generally get. I normally, however, never have a granita (a watery fruit sorbet) because I found them either too sweet or too slushy. And, the flavors that are usually available non mi fa gola (don't tempt me).

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Living in Florence :: Un bel giro a Siena

Today I went to Siena with a new friend I made through my blog, Samantha. She's in Italy for a few weeks and even though we hadn't met beforehand, we decided to go to Siena together. I had a good feeling about her through the emails we exchanged and our recent conversations on the phone after she arrived in Florence. We met in front of the San Lorenzo church and set out for the SITA bus station to take a bus to Siena.

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Because my palestra (gym) is closed for the rest of the month, I've been forced to go to my old palestra. I used to go to Palestra Ricciardi when I lived in Florence back in 1997-1999 and then each time I visited for a month, I'd sign back up. Each time I went, I'd see all the same people I used to know.

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Last night Dave and I met some friends for a gelato at Grom after dinner. We stood in via delle Oche waiting for them to arrive. At 10PM, the streets were quiet and only a few people were in the gelateria. When they arrived, we went inside to get a gelato and ate it outside in the streets enjoying the cool evening air.

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After weeks and weeks of high temperatures, we finally got some respite today. Not only has this summer been a scorcher, but the humidity has been so high that the air hasn't been cooling down at night. Everywhere I've been people have talked about the weather, but not in the usual way. If I see someone I know, we've just been looking at each other, shaking our heads, and saying, "Ma quando finisce questo caldo? Non ce la faccio pił." (When is this heat ending? I can't take it any more.)

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Living in Florence :: Concerti in piazza Santa Croce

I haven't been able to go through Piazza Santa Croce in quite a while. They built a stadium in the middle of the piazza for various performances and concerts. The stage is right below the front of the church, so that all the people in the audience face the church. It's a wonderful setup except that everyone has to walk around it and you can't really take a picture of the front of Santa Croce right now.

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