by Melinda Gallo

I was looking across the Arno today and noticing the many trees without leaves. I suddenly remembered how, when I moved into my apartment in August, the trees were covered with leaves. This year for me has been full of changes. I have had to let go of many dreams and hopes, which has in turn allowed me to embrace new dreams and hopes. Had I not been willing to let go of what I had, I wouldn't have what I am enjoying now in my life. And, I have learned once again that life is all about accepting its flow of what and who exits my life as well as what and who enters it.

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Living in Florence :: Due panini per uno

"Due panini per uno (Two sandwiches for one)," Alessandro said to me today as I was walking toward the mercato (market). I asked him why he wanted a panino and he told me that we can go to the Cascine, a park on the other side of town, where we could have a picnic. And, because it was a nice day, it sounded like a great idea.

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This morning we woke up to a peaceful city with the campane (bells) of a few churches nearby ringing. When I looked out the window, there were very few cars passing by. And, without buses running today, it seemed even quieter.

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I have finally learned that when my friends say, "Ci si vede per farsi gli auguri. (Let's meet up to give each other our best wishes.)" I know that they mean that they have a pensierino (small gift) for me. In years past, I just thought we'd meet up, have a meal or a caffè, and that was it. It wasn't until I would see my friends carrying a gift that I realized what they really meant.

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Living in Florence :: Sunday evening stroll

With Natale (Christmas) right around the corner, people are coming in centro (downtown) to shop. With different lights strung across the streets that illuminate the zone pedonali (pedestrian areas), Florence appears festive and cheery. Instead of shopping this evening with everyone else, Bari and I decided to walk around before the shops closed and take some pictures of our beautifully lit up city.

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After my last appuntamento (appointment) with the other commercialista (public accountant) on Monday, I wasn't feeling very positive and ask around to find another one. I talked to three people and received three new referrals. I decided on one woman whom I talked to over the telephone on Wednesday and decided that I wanted to meet up with her right away. I accepted her first available appuntamento which was this morning.

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I received a letter yesterday from the Ufficio della cittadinanza (citizenship office) at the questura (police station). I didn't file my pratica (file) at the questura, but rather at the prefettura (prefecture) so I was a bit perplexed by this letter. It stated that I needed to call them to make an appuntamento (appointment).

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Living in Florence :: Illuminated monuments

Every once in a while, I am truly taken aback by the beauty of my city. So much so that sometimes I want to pinch myself. This evening I walked through Piazza della Signoria as I have done many times before and was enchanted by the illuminated monuments. I know that normally they are not lit up like this, so I couldn't resist snapping a few pictures.

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A few people have asked me recently, "Vai a casa per le feste? (Are you going home for the holidays?)" It's a logical question given that I'm American, but anyone who knows me well would know that I am already home in Florence. To one of my acquaintances, I responded, "Firenze è casa mia...è quindi sono a casa per le feste. (Florence is my home; therefore, I am home for the holidays." My acquaintance responded, "È bello sentirti dire che Firenze è casa tua. (It's nice to hear you say that Florence is your home.)"

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I have been wanting to find a commercialista (accountant) in Florence for a long time. I know that I need a Partita IVA (VAT account) to establish a company here and bill in Euros. I asked around to find a commercialista and finally felt confident with a referral I received from a good friend. I immediately called him last Friday to set up an appointment. After our brief conversation, I felt pretty comfortable to hire him as my commercialista and planned to see him this morning.

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Living in Florence :: Changing my residency

After our early morning run and a very hot shower, I felt energized and ready to face the world. I was so full of energy that I decided to go to the anagrafe (registry office) to change my residenza (residency) to Alessandro's place. I have been putting it off since we got back from the US, but I know that once the Italian Consulate sends my certificato di matrimonio (wedding certificate) to be registered at the Comune (town hall), I will then have to go to the Questura (police station) to get my carta di soggiorno (stay card). It all sounds complicated, but it is quite simple once you know where to go and what to do.

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Living in Florence :: Albero di natale

As I was sitting at my desk working this evening, I looked out the window and noticed that someone put lights on a large tree. Because I haven't bought an albero di natale (Christmas tree), I was happy to see this one across the Arno river shining brightly.

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After a rainy and gloomy Sunday, today started out foggy. It was so dense this morning that I could barely see the buildings across the Arno river. I looked out at the muddy green water that was swirling around and was mesmerized. The sun occasionally peeked through the clouds as they quickly passed overhead.

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Living in Florence :: Christmas is getting closer

Ever since I've moved to Florence, the Mercato di Natale (Christmas Market) that comes to Piazza Santa Croce each year always makes me feel that Christmas is right around the corner. For many of my American friends, it was the day after Thanksgiving that signaled the beginning of the Christmas season. But since I've lived out of the US for a while, I don't get into a festive mood until I see other things, like decorated shop windows and lights strung across the streets.

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Living in Florence :: Reflections on the Arno

Yesterday as I walked to the Ponte alle Grazie to wait for my suocero (father-in-law) to come and pick me up, I couldn't help but notice the reflection of San Niccolò on the Arno. I always carry my macchina fotografica (camera) with me wherever I go, so I pulled it out of my purse and took a few shots.

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Living in Florence :: A touching soccer game

I enjoy calcio (soccer) a lot, and am always excited about going to a partita (game). Yesterday evening it started to rain and all I could think of was being in an open stadio (stadium) where we would get fradici (soaked). When I woke up this morning, the sky was grey, but by lunchtime the sun appeared and I couldn't wait to go to the stadio.

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