by Melinda Gallo

I was walking around my neighborhood the other day and was overcome with joy. Tears filled my eyes as I stood behind the San Remigio chiesa (church) looking at the buildings that surrounded me. I wanted to reach out and embrace the chiesa, the buildings, and any person who walked by. I felt a wave of appreciation come over me: I am fortunate to be living in Florence and have been so blessed to receive its many wondrous gifts. Not only does it offer us its beauty and share with us its accomplishments, but it is also not afraid to show us its upleasant side that other cities might try to hide. I was enjoying the sight of paint peeling off of buildings, a cracked fašade revealing the bricks underneath, the uneven stones that I was standing on, and even the windows' wood frames warped by the harsh elements.

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Living in Florence :: Four statue salute

My friend Erin asked me the other day if I wanted to participate in a 10K run around Florence on May 10th called Guarda Firenze. I was happy she invited me to go with her because it inspired me to start running again. I had stopped for a little while because I found it too cold at times for me in the morning. Yesterday was the second time this week that I went out for my morning run and decided to push myself back to my usual distance even though it had been a long time since I went running.

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Last month I spoke with Alexandra, the editor of The Florentine, to ask her if she'd be interested in a series of interviews I wanted to do about the English-speaking expats living in Florence. I am always interested in why someone else would choose Florence as their home, so I thought it'd be interesting to have a series about the paths that people took to get here and what they're doing in their lives. Many people who read my blog people ask me what kinds of jobs are available here and my response is always the same. "Whatever you're interested in or want to do, you can do here. You just have to be creative." And each of the five expats that I've interviewed so far have confirmed that.

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Most people would probably want to avoid doing to the Agenzie delle Entrate (Italian Revenue Office), but I couldn't wait to go. Thankfully this morning it was sunny after a rainy day yesterday. I jumped on my bicicletta (bicycle) and headed to Piazza Indipendenza. As I was riding down via dei Servi, I noticed that there was a mercato (market) in Piazza Santissima Annunziata where I used to live. It was so busy with people walking around the bancarelle (stands) at 10am that I had to walk my bicicletta through the piazza.

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Living in Florence :: A full day at the stadio

After yesterday's chilly weather, I was thrilled this morning when I saw the clear blue sky from our apartment windows. One of Alessandro's friends, Gianluca, had asked me if I wanted to go to the stadio (stadium) to watch the Fiorentina play for free if I would volunteer for the Fondazione Tomasello (Tomasello Foundation) to distribute uova di Pasqua (Easter eggs). The money received will be spent on research for genetic diseases for the young boy after whom the fondazione is named as well as other children who are afflicted with Mitochondrial diseases.

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A few days before spring officially begins and I'm truly excited. I love it when we are on the verge of a new season. I love how the weather is quirky: the sun also teases us with its warm afternoon rays, but then quickly disappears so we are left unprepared for the brisk evenings. Each morning I open up the persiane (shutters) and don't know if it's going to be sunny, cloudy, or rainy. I look out at the Arno and smile because it is so beautiful right now. When it rains a lot, the Arno becomes a muddy brown and in the summer it turns a murky green, but at this time of year it is an emerald green that shimmers in the light. It seems to be happy too.

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Living in Florence :: Enjoying my visit of Taste

For the last couple of years, I have been wanting to go to Taste: the fair of tastes. My friend Sarah and I rode our biciclette (bikes) down the relatively quiet streets to Stazione Leopolda, which is near the Porta al Prato. When we arrived, we parked our biciclette along the metal fence. We had planned on arriving right when the fiera (expo) opened, but the lines to get in were already long and the salone (hall) was full of people. I was attracted to the back wall of the main salone where there were multi-colored plates attached to it as shown in the picture.

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Living in Florence :: Watching the Fiorentina play

When Alessandro told me that the Fiorentina would be playing a partita amichevole (friendly soccer match) open to the public today, I was over the moon. I hadn't been to a partita in a long time. It didn't even matter to me that it was during my afternoon pisolino (nap); I'd just do without one for once. After I found out that the partita would start at 3pm, I decided to leave my place at 2pm to make sure I'd get a good spot to watch the Fiorentina and take some foto (pictures).

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Living in Florence :: Andrea Ponsi at Mel Bookstore

I have been wanting to go to Andrea Ponsi's presentazione (presentation) of his book "Firenze Sensibile" ever since I heard about it. I found Andrea's book at a small libreria (bookstore) one day by chance. Once I started reading it, I couldn't stop myself. I was touched by his lovely experience of Florence, a city that he wasn't born in but has been a resident in for many years. Andrea Ponsi, who is holding the microphone in the photo, is not only a published writer, but also an architect, designer, artist, and university professor.

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While most of my Italian girlfriends were planning on going out Sunday night to celebrate the Festa della Donna (International Woman's Day), many of my English-speaking girlfriends and I met up for brunch yesterday to begin the festivities early. I haven't been to a typical American-style brunch in at least a year, and was so excited to finally be going. All fifteen of us met up at noon and started off our brunch with either a mimosa or a bellini (prosecco with either orange juice or peach juice). We were also served a plate of fresh blueberry or chocolate muffins that we snatched up before it hit the table.

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Living in Florence :: Sunny days and hope for spring

After almost a week of rain, it was a wonderful surprise to wake up to a beautiful and bright sun yesterday and today. Even the tulipani (tulips) that I bought earlier this week were happy and stuck toward the window to soak up even more sun. I felt happy to look out the window and see the sun shining on San Niccol˛. I noticed that once the sun comes out, people tend to gravitate toward it.

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For many years, I have resisted eating pizza in Florence because I prefer pizza alta (thick crust pizza). Here in Florence, they generally make pizza bassa (thin crust pizza). When Alessandro and I started dating almost two years ago, he took me to a small pizzeria, called Strapizzami, that can only welcome about 12 people unless the Florentine rugby team arrives and then there are about 25 of us packed inside. Ever since my first taste of their pizza, we go back almost every Friday for our weekly treat.

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For the past few days in a row, I woke up to a grey and misty sky with rain coming down. The dark-colored Arno is flowing steadily toward the Ponte Vecchio. I look out my window to watch the people across the Arno walking down the street with their umbrellas bobbing up and down with each step. I can't even see beyond the low hills because of the low clouds. When I sit back down at my desk, I can hear the water splashing in the street as cars drive by.

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It wasn't until I read the article published in the Florentine, "More than Mimosa," that I began to think even more about how I feel about being a woman in Florence. I was honored to be quoted in the article. The editor sent me a list of questions, but I had no idea what everyone else would say. I'm happy that we each had different issues as it certainly shows the varied experiences we women share in Florence, and, I believe, the world.

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