by Melinda Gallo

Living in Florence :: Maratona di Firenze at a distance

At around 7 this morning while the sun was rising, I looked out our apartment windows where numerous podisti (runners) were heading toward Piazzale Michelangiolo for the beginning of the Maratona di Firenze. The sun was revealing a dark, patchy sky with very few rays of sunshine beaming through. Some of the podisti were jogging while others were walking toward the Ponte alle Grazie. Many of the podisti were already sporting plastic impermeabili (rain jackets) because rain was imminent.

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Living in Florence :: Sending off a note to Heaven from Piazza Santo Spirito

I was told about this special event, Notes to Heaven, a few weeks ago through the Florence Film School. Francesca Casilli is a film student who is making a film on people who have lost a loved one. There was something about the idea that filled me with much joy even though I felt it was also a bit scary. The idea is that each participant write a note to a loved one, attach it to a red palloncino (balloon), and send it off to Heaven from Piazza Santo Spirito. To bring something so private out in the public enticed me quite a bit because I feel as if I have been grieving for so many years all alone.

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I've been told that I'm quite American because I wash my hair every day. My parucchiere (hair dresser), Simone, tells me over and over again how it's not good for my hair, but I can't help it. It's one of those habits I can't seem to break. I talked with my Italian amiche (girlfriends) and found out that they go regularly to the parucchiere to farsi la piega (get their hair styled), so today I thought I'd indulge myself by going to the parucchiere just to farmi la piega (get my hair styled).

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This morning I rode my bici (bike) from our apartment to viale dei Mille where I had an appointment. I haven't ridden my bici in weeks because of the rain and the cold weather, but today I figured I'd take it instead of walking. Viale dei Mille is outside of the mura of the city and I seem to lose my bearings quite quickly when I go outside of the centro storico (city center).

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This entire week I've been wondering what I will write today. I have been living in Florence, and blogging about it, since this day for the past four years. Each day this week, I have been looking out onto the Arno, wondering about what makes me love living here. While I passed by churches and monuments in the streets this week, I asked myself what I appreciate about my beloved city. The beauty and magic of the city are obvious, but what is it that makes me feel that I have found a home here?

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This morning when I went into the banca (bank) to deposit some cash, the cassiera (teller) informed me that one of my banconote di 20 euro (20 Euro bills) was falsa (counterfeit). "Come falsa? What do you mean counterfeit?" I asked the cassiera. I was a little embarrassed when a few of the people in the banca turned around after she told me the news. She held up the banconota falsa along with a real one for me to compare, and pointed out that it was really obvious just by looking at them.

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I am not the only one who lives abroad who has felt that my country has left me disappointed and embarrassed at times. I had feared that the Republicans would win the presidency again, and like many other expats would have turned in my American passport if that were the case even though I do love my country. I have always loved what my country stands for, but the direction we have been going in has been painful for us all. Living abroad has opened my eyes to see the world differently. I finally saw how other people viewed the US, and how things are looked at differently by non-Americans.

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Living in Florence :: Election Night at Saschall

At around half past eight last night, three of my girlfriends and I piled into a taxi as the rain was pouring outside. We were taken along the Lungarno to go to Saschall where the Election Night 2008, organized by the Tuscan American Association, was being held. When we arrived outside, we could already hear the music playing. We walked toward the entrance where there were two lines of carabinieri (military policemen) standing guard. We walked inside the building and were greeted by crowds of Americans and Italians.

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Living in Florence :: La porti un bacione a Firenze

After a rainy Halloween, the sun has reappeared to warm up the cool air for the festa di tutti i santi (All Saint's Day). Before I left our apartment this morning to do a few commissioni (errands), my friend Marco called to say, "Auguri! Best Wishes!" for the festa (holiday). He has a strong connection to Florence and would love to live here, but now resides in the north of Italy. Before he hung up, he said, "La porti un bacione a Firenze! Give Florence a big kiss for me!"

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