by Melinda Gallo

Today, I went to visit a couple more apartments with my agente (real estate agent) #2. We had set up today's appointment last Thursday when we arrived late to an apartment and the proprietario (owner) had supposedly already left. My agente called the proprietario to reschedule the appointment and so here we were again: same place a few days later.

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I had an incredibly social Monday. I was supposed to be working on a project this afternoon, but instead I had a drink with a friend of mine, went to a wine bar with my writing instructor near Ponte Vecchio, and had dinner with two of Dave's friends from school in San Niccolò.

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Living in Florence :: Una giornata eccezionale

Normally on Sundays, I stay home. I avoid the crowded streets in centro (downtown) so that I can work on my computer, read, and just get ready for the upcoming week. But, today I went out for lunch with my friend Tina who is living in Perugia. We met in Piazza Santo Spirito and had lunch out on the restaurant's terrazza (terrace).

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Living in Florence :: A peaceful moment

Yesterday I managed to take a photo as I crossed the Ponte alla Carraia from Oltrarno toward centro. It was only about 11 in the morning, but I found the Arno to be so peaceful that I stood there for a few minutes. I watched one guy rowing his boat down the Arno and I thought how wonderful it must be to have the city pulsating around you while you are completely at peace on the water.

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I took a taxi to Piazza del Carmine to visit another apartment this morning at 11AM. I arrived a little early and waited for my agente (real estate agent) #2. She whizzed by me on her motorino (scooter) and waved to me as I stood on the corner. After she parked her motorino, she told me that her collega (colleague) made the appointment for 10AM and we wouldn't be able to see the apartment.

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After returning from the US, I've been putting off going to the questura (police station) to renew our permessi di soggiorno (permits to stay). I don't like procrastinating, but I had a hard time feeling enthusiastic about going to the questura. The anxiety of what could go wrong is high, and being in a stuffy room with hundreds of people is also not a bonus.

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Today I went to the copisteria (photocopy shop) down the street from my apartment. I know the guy there quite well because I have been buying my notebooks and other office goods there for the last two years. He did all my copies for me even though I told him that I could do them myself. In the end, I was happy I let him do my photocopies as he did a better job than I could have.

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Today I finally didn't have any appointments to visit apartments. I got so run down last week from walking all over town at different times of the day and with temperatures that were up and then way down that I caught a raffredore (cold) and stayed home all day yesterday. I wanted to have another giorno di riposo (day off), but instead I went out to meet a friend for lunch and then had one of my writing classes this evening.

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Living in Florence :: What market is this?

I went through Piazza Santa Croce on the way back from visiting another apartment near Santo Spirito. When I looked around at the stands at the mercato (market), I realized that it might not be the annual German one that I thought it was. This mercato seems to extend alongside the Santa Croce church and has many different items for sale besides the few German typical ones.

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Living in Florence :: Drastic change in weather

In only one day, the weather went from fairly warm and sunny to cold, cloudy, and even rainy. I had finally taken a day off of apartment searching and walked through Piazza Santa Croce. It was great to walk around without having to be somewhere at a specific time.

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After visiting yet another apartment this morning, I met up with my friend Sara for lunch. She was sitting in Piazza Santissima Annunziata with her friend Luisa, and we decided to go to my favorite Chinese restaurant on via Guelfa, which wasn't too far away. While we were standing at the stoplight on via Cavour just about to cross the street, I noticed that the red lanterns weren't hanging outside of the building. I thought that maybe they took them down temporarily, but when we walked up to the door, we realized that it was gone.

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This morning when I began my day I had no idea that I would find myself on the back of a motorino (scooter) to visit an apartment near Santo Spirito. It's been a long time since I was on the back of a motorino, and I almost forgot about how thrilling and scary it can be.

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It seems like Sunday is the day when I hear my neighbors the most. Our windows are open because the weather is still nice, but at 9AM I heard the elderly man downstairs whistling at the pigeons and another girl, probably one of the new tenants downstairs, singing along with the radio.

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This afternoon I took a walk over Ponte alle Grazie bridge to see Simone at his restaurant. I have only seen two of my friends since coming back to Florence. I have exchanged messagini (SMS messages) with almost all of my friends as it's the easiest way to contact each one. Only one or two friends of mine called me on the telephone, i.e. my friend Rossana called me on my first day back just to say, "Ben tornata!" (Welcome back!)

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Living in Florence :: I could live with this view

Today on my second day of apartment hunting, my agente (real estate agent) took me around to visit three apartments in a different area from where I originally requested. I had never thought of living near the Ponte Vecchio before: I felt it would be a little too touristy for us to live in. Sometimes I almost don't notice the tourists in Piazza Santa Croce because I've become so adept at walking around them.

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During my month away from Florence, I tried not to think about all the apartment hunting I'd have to do when I got back. It wouldn't be that stressful if I had more time, but Simone wants to move back into his place within the next month or so. I tried to search for an apartment before we left, but either agencies wouldn't show me anything or the few apartments I did see weren't right for us.

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Living in Florence :: Pure bliss

As I walked the streets of Florence today, I was amazed at the wonderful weather we're having. For the past two years, Dave and I have missed out on being in Florence in October. And, now I see that we probably missed the best month ever to be visiting Florence! The mornings are a little brisk, so we still need to wear a light sweater, but by lunchtime, the sun is shining brightly and it feels great to be outside. It's not until the evening when the sun goes down that we need a sweater again. There's not a cloud in the sky and the winds are quite light, so it is simply wonderful!

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It feels like we missed out on an entire day when we finally arrived home a little after 11PM on Monday. We left Sunday evening from San Francisco around 7PM and arrived at the Pisa airport on Monday at 10PM. Luckily, I was able to sleep for a few hours in the plane, which made me feel a little better about an entire day lost in flight.

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I have tried to not think too much about my mother mostly because I have a difficult time remembering her without feeling sad. Although when I'm in the States, I think about her much more often. Memories of her are all around me because I usually stay at my sister's house, which is close to where we were brought up. I ended up driving past our house in Sunnyvale, my high school, and our sandwich shop where we used to work when we were growing up.

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My sister and her family have been raving about Manresa for years and finally this year I was able to eat there with my family to celebrate my birthday. A few weeks before we were to eat at Manresa, the restaurant was mentioned in Gourmet magazine as one of America's top 50 restaurants this year. And then, just a few days before our dinner, Manresa was given two Michelin stars.

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There are many things that I had forgotten about living in the US. Mostly they are little things that were at one point second nature to me. Living in Italy has instilled me with different habits, so during my trip to the States, I have felt a bit awkward at times and have made a few faux pas.

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