by Melinda Gallo

Simone wants me to work on his restaurant's website, so we decided to meet up today for a lunch meeting. He came over to my apartment because he doesn't have a computer or Internet at his place. The plan was for him to pick us up some take-away sushi from a new place that just opened up on via Ghibellina, and come over. There are now three of them in centro (downtown), which pales in comparison to number of kebab places that seem to be opening up all over town.

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Tonight, I was brought over to my friend's friend's house at around 9:30PM. I thought we were just going for a visit, but we arrived right when they were about to sit down to eat. Since we hadn't yet eaten either, they invited us to eat with them. I was embarrassed about coming over empty handed, but they made us both feel comfortable.

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Since Saturday, the weather has cooled down drastically. It had been so hot here that we were all afraid that it would only get worse. And then on Saturday, the weather turned. It began to cool off in the evening and I had to shut the windows in my apartment. When we had our impromptu dinner, we came in early because it was too cold.

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One thing I have learned about living in Italy is that people enter and exit my life at an amazing speed. When I had moved back to Italy in 2004, two of my closest girlfriends left Florence and went back to their hometowns in southern Italy within a few months. Since I've been here, I have met many Americans who come to live in Florence for a specific period of time, like six months to a year. It's great to meet them, go out with them, and become close, but it is always sad when they leave.

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Many of my friends think I'm a little crazy for having no other means of transportation but my feet in Florence. Simone has been on me for years about getting a bicicletta (bike), but I haven't been too keen on the idea. However, for the past few weeks, I've been realizing how convenient it would be to have one. Especially when I was looking at apartments all over town and going to the agenzia immobiliare (real estate agency) near Porta Romana, which is on the opposite side of town for me.

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This evening I met up with the proprietaria (owner) of my new apartment to sign the proposta (rental offer). My agente immobiliare (real estate agent), the proprietaria's agente immobiliare and the two of us met at the same spot as last time up near Piazzale Michelangelo.

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Living in Florence :: Artigianato e Palazzo

Summer has definitely arrived in Florence. Not only is the weather sunny and warm, but the Florentines have already started leaving for the weekend. This morning when I looked out over the terrazza (terrace), there were hardly any people at all. My piazza is not that touristy, but still many people walk through it to get to downtown from the other side of the viale (large avenue).

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After reviewing the contratto (contract) that I signed last year for my existing apartment, I have come to realize that no disdetta (notice to leave) was specified. Which means, that I'm supposed to pay rent until the end of November no matter what. On Monday, the proprietari (owners) of the apartment asked me for a disdetta of three months, which I sent to them.

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One thing that happens quite often in Italy that I haven't really understood is that when I'm walking with a friend, especially a male friend, and we meet another male friend, there are no introductions. It sometimes happens with female friends too, but a little less often. I stand behind my friend and try to look like I belong, but I often feel uncomfortable because no one acknowledges my presence.

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After my many, many visits last year to different doctors and acupuncturists, I decided to get a new ginecologa (gynecologist). The last one I had knew that I was married and trying to get pregnant. But, now that I'm single and not willing to tell my previous ginecologa about my situation, I decided to just go see a new one. She was already on me last year about hurrying up to have a baby that now she'd probably just shake her head at me if she saw me.

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Living in Florence :: Giardini e cortili aperti a tutti

Every year many palazzi (palaces) and giardini privati (private gardens) in Florence open their doors to let others visit them for one day. The Toscana Esclusiva gave a list of all of the places that were open for the day. Because of the heat, I didn't want to walk around too much so I decided to go to the closest one to my apartment. And, I couldn't possibly find one any closer than the one in my own piazza.

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This time I had been hoping I wouldn't have to visit 22 apartments like I did last time. I made a vow to only visit an apartment if it really sounded interesting because a few times I was dragged to areas that didn't interest me and apartments that didn't sound that appealing.

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Normally I don't eat at any restaurant twice in one week. I love to eat out and can sometimes crave the same thing two days in a row, but I still generally don't go to any restaurant that often. I had lunch with Karen and her friend Sandy, who lives in Florence, at Olio e Convivium in via Santo Spirito on Monday. And we went again today.

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I can't remember the last time I took a stroll in centro (downtown) after dinner. Because I usually work after dinner with my clients in the US, I never think about doing anything late at night. Usually, when I'm out, I feel hurried and walk to where I need to go, but I normally don't take my time and look at the well-lit shop windows and watch the people pass by me.

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These past few weeks have gone by quickly now that I look back at them. Initially I felt like I fell into a pool and immediately touched the bottom. After much flailing about and bobbing up and down, I have finally began to wade along the surface. My feet only rarely graze the bottom of the pool now, and with my head above water, I'm able to better assess what's around me.

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I woke up to the sound of rain this morning. When I got up, I opened the windows in my room and saw people in the street below walking briskly with umbrellas in hand. When I looked out to the hills leading to Fiesole, I wanted to smile, but all I felt was sadness.

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This morning there was a beautiful sun piercing the sky. How could I not feel happy, joyful, and full of love as I looked out on my beloved city. The surrounding colline (hills) give me such a sense of peace and strength at the same time. Florence's beauty penetrates my heart and I feel so close to her. I don't feel a need to possess her, but I do want to enjoy her as much as possible.

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These past few weeks I have spent trying to readjust to my new life. I am especially enjoying all the time I spend with my girlfriends who are so present in my life now. When I was married, I seemed to have separated myself from them all gradually. At one point I remember becoming very sad because I had no "real" girlfriends that I could talk to. And, I realize now that I was the one who distanced myself, not them.

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Living in Florence :: May Day

Today is Festa dei lavoratori (Labor Day) in Italy. The city seemed so quiet this morning when I woke up. There were no buses and hardly any cars outside in the street. Almost every shop on my street was closed even though a few restaurants and bars were open. It wasn't until I walked out to Santa Croce that crowds of people seemed to just appear. Because most of the museums were closed today for the festa (holiday), the churches and gardens were busier than usual.

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