by Melinda Gallo

A few new leggi (laws) were approved by the giunta (committee) last week that affect a lot of people, including myself. It seems that the new leggi were also approved by the consiglio comunale (town council) and have supposedly taken effect.

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Living in Florence :: Prima partita della Fiorentina

I had been waiting for today's partita (soccer match) for weeks. I'd look at the tickets every few days and count the days until the big day. I heard on the radio this morning that the partita was sold out and that there would be 40,000 tifosi (soccer fans) attending Fiorentina's first home partita against Barcelona. It was a partita amichevole (friendly match), but I couldn't wait to see all the new giocatori (players) like Gilardino, Jovetic, and Melo, and some of the old ones like Frey, Pazzini, Mutu, and Donadel.

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Even when I first arrived in Florence, I knew it was a small city. I'd see the same people in a day or meet someone who was already friends with someone else I knew. Nothing really surprises me any more when it comes to meeting or seeing people. Ever since we moved into our apartment, I've had an inkling that I knew the man who lives on the first floor of my building. Today, I finally talked with him and found out that I had worked for him back in 1999 when I was living in Florence the first time.

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Living in Florence :: Visiting Florence with George

Today is the first time this year that someone has come to Florence to see me and to tour my beloved city. Usually someone in my family comes out for a visit, but this year no one has. My friend George emailed me a few weeks ago to tell me that he was coming to work in Milan for a week. He decided to come down for a quick visit of Florence because he had never been here and because we haven't seen each other in a year. We met at a conference for work many years ago when I was living in California and then he hired me to work on his company website. While we were working together, we began opening up to each other and we have since become good friends.

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I buy my frutta e verdura (fruits and vegetables) at the ortolano (green grocer) on via dei Neri. His mother, who is from Naples, works in the shop with him most mornings. I always know that his shop is open when I see some of the frutta on display outside. I smile each time I walk in because he wears a grembiule (apron) with the brand name of an Italian apple on it, Melinda.

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Yesterday a girlfriend and I took a train to Umbria to see Alicia Keys perform at the Umbria Jazz Festival. We met up with four other girlfriends and shared two hotel rooms to stay the night. My friend Kendra bought the tickets for us so all we had to do was show up in Perugia.

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One of the sad things about being an expat in Florence is that so many people I meet end up leaving. It probably happens in many places where many expats move to, but I notice it the most here. Every year, I have to say goodbye to more than one person who has become a good friend of mine. It's such a pleasure when I am able to meet someone who becomes a close friend that it can be difficult to say goodbye.

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Living in Florence :: Browsing the mercato dei fiori

After having colazione (breakfast) with my girlfriend at Caff Giacosa in Palazzo Strozzi, I decided to take a walk through Piazza Repubblica. Today was sunny and warm and after our storm on Monday, I've been trying to enjoy the good weather while we're having it. I was greeted by the many banchi (stalls) selling fiori (flowers) and piante (plants). There is something magical about all the colors mixed together that puts me in an even better mood.

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I love riding my bicicletta (bicycle) around town even though at times it can be stressful. If it's not the cars, buses, and motorini (scooters) whizzing by, it's the people who walk in the street that I try to avoid. They sometimes turn around and stare at me when I ring my campanello (bell) while they slowly get out of my way. I do give fair warning and ride rather slowly because I too am a pedestrian on the same streets. I hate it when people ride their bicicletta so fast that they come up behind me and ring their campanello so many times that I have to practically jump out of the way to avoid an incidente (accident).

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Living in Florence :: Sunday's summer storm

Yesterday morning, an unexpected storm broke out. The sky went dark and the rain belted down on the streets below within a few moments after the threatening clouds appeared. I looked out the window to watch the rain, which quickly turned into a heavy, but brief, grandinata (hailstorm). I couldn't help but watch as a few people ran in the street desperately looking for cover. After a few minutes, no one was walking in the street and the city seemed to come to a halt while almost everyone stopped to watch the storm erupt and then eventually fade.

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When I woke up on this stormy and rainy Sunday morning, I realized that I've been going to the house of my suoceri (in-laws) for Sunday lunch for an entire year. When I first went to their place for lunch, I felt a little nervous because it was important to me that they like me. From the beginning, they were very accommodating and treated me as if I were a part of the family even before I became Alessandro's moglie (wife).

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With summer in Florence comes open windows and noisy streets. We have the typical sounds like the bells of the Palazzo Vecchio that ring every hour and the cars and motorini (scooters) that whiz by on the lungarno (street along the Arno) at the end of our piazza. I sometimes hear people speaking below my window in the piazza while I'm working on my computer. At night, their voices carry even more especially when they walk in the narrow street below the side windows of our place.

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I attended Lisa McGarry's book signing for her new book, Piazzas of Florence, at the McRae's bookshop in late June. I had heard about the book signing one day when I was perusing books. I immediately put the date on my calendar as soon as I got home. I was happy that my friend Diana came to attend it as well after I told her what a wonderful book Lisa wrote. I not only wanted to get my book signed, but I wanted to meet Lisa who is American and lives in Florence.

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Via dei Neri is the one street in centro (downtown) that I always take to go just about anywhere because I live very close to it. I love how at different times of the day the street, which represents most of the city, changes.

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Only two weeks ago, I called FastWeb to tell them that I was having problems with my Internet connection. The woman at the other end of the phone went through the support question drill to make sure I had plugged in my modem and that I had tried restarting it. She told me that she'd be sending out a tecnico (technician) to check everything out the next morning. He arrived a half hour early for our appointment, but called me from the parking lot below our apartment to make sure I was home.

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Living in Florence :: Un matrimonio a Greve in Chianti

I haven't been to a matrimonio (wedding) with a ricevimento (reception) in a long time. Last year a friend got married at the comune (town hall) in Florence and then had a rinfresco (a party with drinks and appetizers) afterwards, but it was small and lasted only until about 8pm. So today I was excited to go to Greve in Chianti to attend our friend's matrimonio in the comune. Quickly after the ceremony, we were driving up a dirt road to the Castello di Verrazzano for the ricevimento.

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One of the greatest joys of going outside of Florence is viewing it from different angles and from different altitudes. Going to the Piazzale Michelangiolo is a true favorite of mine because it's so close and the views are stunning. But, I also do enjoy going to other places like Fiesole and Bellosguardo to take a peek at my beloved city.

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I suddenly have this desire to drive a car again. I usually only drive when I go back to the States and am so happy to drive up and down California to visit family and friends. But, at times it's exhausting as I feel like I drive the entire time I'm in the States. Now that Italy is more my home, I've been thinking that I should get a patente di guida italiana (Italian driving license) just in case I ever get the chance to drive. Because we live in the centro (downtown area), I have no need to drive. I don't even have a car, but a patente di guida italiana might be handy if I want to drive a motorino (scooter) as well since it's now a requirement.

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