by Melinda Gallo

Today I had an appointment with the proprietario (owner) of my old apartment. He sent me an email yesterday with a breakdown of the utenze (utilities) that I have to pay. I hadn't seen a single bolletta (bill) since I arrived in that apartment last December.

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Living in Florence :: My new place above the Arno

It didn't take me long at all to fall in love with my new apartment. The picture shown is the view from my window, and it's the same view I see from my desk while I'm working. I had been wanting to look out at something after spending last year looking at a wall, and the two years before looking out at rooftops. Now, I get to see people and cars, and I feel as if I am truly living in the city.

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While the bells of the Santissima Annunziata church rang at 8AM this morning, the movers rang my doorbell. I had a feeling that they'd be on time, but I was surprised that they were not even a minute late. Luckily, I was ready with all my boxes and furniture near the front door. Alessandro had helped me the night before until about 1AM to fare i pacchi (pack up) after I spent much of the day doing the rest.

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I haven't seen Paul Young in concert since I was about 18. I drove up to San Francisco with a few girlfriends and we saw him at the Kabuki theater. I had already missed George Michael who was performing in Lucca, so I absolutely didn't want to miss Paul Young.

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I'm generally a patient person. I don't complain when I have to see my medico di famiglia (family doctor) and wait over an hour and a half to talk to her for five minutes. And, I certainly don't wince when I have to wait in line at the Questura (police station) for at least an hour to hand in my paperwork to renew my permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay). But today, my avvocato (lawyer) stood me up, and I was a bit dismayed.

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I have finally scheduled my trasloco (move) for Sunday morning. I wanted to pick a time when the city is rather quiet and still cool. Although I realize that 8AM is a bit early to be ready for such a big change in my life. And, if the past few morning appointments are any indication, they will probably arrive earlier than 8AM, so I'll have to be ready for them by 7:30AM.

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Living in Florence :: Una giornata a Poggio di Petto

When the weather is as hot as it has been, the fiorentini (Florentines) search for refuge either al mare (at the seaside) or nelle montagne (in the mountains). Today, Alessandro took me up to Poggio di Petto to have lunch and spend the day with his friends.

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For the second week in a row, my friend Haruko and I have been searching high and low for single women to attend a dinner party. Last Saturday, she had a sushi party at her house and I was able to invite a few of my friends. Haruko decided to invite a few single women because one of our male friends, whom we both like a lot, is newly single. We invited all the single women we knew, but in the end there were still more men than women.

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This morning a tecnico (technician) for FastWeb called me and said that he'd been trying to call me for days. I told him that it's highly impossible since my cell phone is always on and I didn't see any missed calls. He told me that he had some time today to install the kit, which consists of the modem and wireless phone, so we set a time for us to meet at the apartment.

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We've been very lucky these past few weeks with only a few unbearably hot days, but now it seems that our summer heat has arrived. I'm not one to complain much about the heat because it is just a part of life here in Florence. And actually I sometimes like warm summer evenings, albeit a bit hot at times. But, with the heat comes the self-imposed darkness, which can make anyone feel a bit melancholy.

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Living in Florence :: Invitations for lunch and dinner

I recognize that I am fortunate. And, I wonder if by recognizing that I'm fortunate, I truly see just how much good fortune comes my way. Not only did Alessandro's parents invite me to their house for lunch for the second time this week, but I was also invited to another couple's place in Bellosguardo for dinner.

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I finally went to my new apartment today to let in a tecnico (technician) sent by Telecom Italia to install a DSL line. The proprietaria (owner) of my new apartment came by my place to drop off the keys Wednesday night. I had arranged for the tecnico to come Wednesday afternoon, but the previous inquilini (tenants) couldn't let in the tecnico because they were packing up for their trasloco (move).

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Living in Florence :: Mario Biondi singing under the stars

I hadn't heard of Mario Biondi until only a few months ago. I had heard his most popular song, "This Is What You Are" on the radio and imagined some newly discovered American R&B singer. But when Alessandro brought over one of his CDs and I listened to it, I was surprised that the he was Italian because his voice was so deep and soulful, a bit like Barry White's, and he sang in impeccable English.

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For almost a month I have been a bit worried about changing my permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay). I had seen my avvocato (lawyer) almost a month ago and he told me that we'd be going to the Camera di Commercio (Chamber of Commerce) the next week. I called him a few times to no avail, and then he called me yesterday to say that I was supposed to meet him today at the Camera di Commercio at 11AM.

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As part of the FITC Creative Campus here in Florence, Mitch Ryan was present for an aperitivo (apéritif) at the Paperback Exchange to perform a few pieces and to discuss his career. Bari Hochwald and Aaron Craig, the two co-artistic directors and founders of FITC, have created a Creative Campus here in Florence to promote the positive side of the American culture here.

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I had already been invited to pranzo (lunch) at Alessandro's parent's house, but today was the first time I was invited alone. I wasn't too worried about it because they are really nice to me. Since we have met, I have talked to his mother quite a bit and called her to thank her for sending me food and fresh uova (eggs) through Alessandro.

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Living in Florence :: Matrimonio civile al Palazzo Vecchio

The last time I attended a matrimonio civile (civil wedding) at the Palazzo Vecchio was about ten years ago when my friends Tom and Erica came to Florence to get married. I was one of their testimoni (witnesses) because at the time, they were living in Paris and I had just moved to Florence only a month prior.

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I used to think that having a car was a bit overrated. They are absolutely necessary in California: you can't go to the grocery store without a car even if it's around the corner. In Florence, I'm completely happy walking around and I'm able to get everywhere I want without any problems. However, when Alessandro took me to a restaurant above Bagno a Ripoli, in a place called Rimaggio, I started to think that having a car would be nice: I'd be able to admire my beloved city from afar as well.

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There are two schools of thought when it comes to picking up the local accent. Some people think it's normal while others think it's abnormal. I tend to believe it's normal. If it weren't, why would children who have parents who speak with an accent still pick up the local accent. And some people are just sponges when it comes to learning languages, like Madonna who now has a bit of a British accent.

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I haven't been in the US for at least three years to celebrate Independence Day. I always associate this festa (holiday) with having friends and family over for a barbecue, so when my friend Sarah proposed that we have a party, I thought it would be a great idea. The only problem was that because it's not festa here in Italy, our American friends were mostly busy, so we ended up cancelling our barbecue.

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Living in Florence :: Cena della prova generale

Alessandro and I went to Siena last night for the cena della prova generale (dinner for the trials) of the Palio di Siena. I had never been to see the Palio before and was eager to finally see some part of it. I had been to Siena right before the Palio when the campo was filled with dirt, but never with so many people there like in my photo.

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