by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Dinner with friends from Florence

Today it was a bit cold and rainy in Paris when we woke up. It felt like we were back in Florence as the mild weather we were welcomed with had simply evaporated. I made plans before we left Florence to meet up with Steve and Susan who lived in Florence last year until they moved to Paris.

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After a long bus ride to Pisa and a short flight to Orly Sud, we're in Paris. I think it's been about two and a half years since I've been back. We're meeting with my sister, brother-in-law, and neice on Friday, but we arrived early so that I could see some old friends before we visit the city.

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Last night Dave and I took two of our friends to Canapone for dinner. It was cold enough that we had to walk quickly to my friend Simone's restaurant. I saw Simone at the palestra (gym) the day before and told him to reserve a table for us. He said it was perfect timing because he just changed the menu. I'm always excited to go when he changes the menu because I get to taste his new creations.

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Tucked behind via Calzaiuoli is a small bar called, Caffè Italiano, in via Condotta. I've been a few times for a quick espresso, but today my friend Sarah suggested that we go to fare due chiacchiere (chat). We walked past the bar, stealing a look at the dolci (desserts) on the counter, and headed up the stairs. We found a table next to the window where we could watch catch a glimpse of people walking by in via Condotta.

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I had no idea how much my "freelance" lifestyle is so deeply ingrained in me. I have been going to the palestra (gym) pretty much since we arrived, but I keep paying only one or three months at a time. I've gone to two different palestre, but still wouldn't commit to one year.

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Yesterday we went to our first partita (soccer match). I was hoping that my first partita would be to see La Fiorentina, our beloved Florentine team. But, it was to see another level of La Fiorentina team with young boys who were born in 1996. My friend Debora's boyfriend, Paolo, is an allenatore (coach) for a Tuscan team and were playing against La Fiorentina.

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This past week we've had warmer weather than usual here in Florence. A few mornings this week, I was able to sit out on our terrazza (terrace) to enjoy the sun. I often take a peek at the top of the Duomo to see how many people are up there to get an idea of how busy the centro storico (historical downtown area) might be. I also look out onto the piazza and examine how everyone is dressed to get a feel for the weather before I go outside.

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Today, Simone invited me to have pranzo (lunch) with him at his place. I was happy that we finally had a chance to talk as it's difficult when I go to his restaurant for dinner or when I pass by the restaurant while he's prepping for dinner. I was even happier when he told me that he'd make me lunch at his place. I've been to his place before for lunch, but not since we moved to Florence and were living in his apartment.

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Living in Florence :: My first Italian cooking class

I love to cook, or more precisely, I love to eat and therefore I was obliged to learn how to cook to satisfy my love of food. I had never taken a cooking class before because my mother and grandmother taught me everything I know. My grandmother would make my favorite dishes, like Chinese tomato beef curry and chow fun noodles with beef in black bean sauce without using a recipe. My mother, on the other hand, taught me all about baking and making pastries, which is much more precise: everything has to be measured carefully and done exactly as it's written.

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When I opened my bank account here, I told the woman that I wanted a checkbook. "Non ne hai bisogno. Nessun accetta assegni." (You don't need it. No one accepts checks.), she said. And then, when I ordered some rimedi omeopatici (homeopathic remedies), I found out that the guy doesn't accept credit cards and didn't want a check, but he told me to go to Le Poste (the Post Office) and send him a vaglia (postal order).

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Living in Florence :: New month, new hair, and a new attitude

I dragged myself out of the house today to get a spuntata (trim) at my parrucchiere (hairdresser's). I walked past the San Marco church and took a picture of it now that the scaffolding has been finally removed. I forgot how beautiful it really is. We've had some strange weather here lately. On Tuesday we had a bright and warm sun out, and then Wednesday the temperatures dropped drastically. Today, it was mild outside, but not as sunny as I was hoping.

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