by Melinda Gallo

I haven't been back to the US since I got married in October 2007. Alessandro and I decided last week to go there for a short vacation. After spending the entire month of August in Florence, we're finally taking our turn to get away. Staying here was almost like a vacation with fewer people around, quieter streets and less traffic, so now that more people are back now, we can finally take off.

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Last night's game was the first I've been to this month. A few weeks ago, we did go watch the Fiorentina play against PSG for a partita amichevole (friendly soccer match). The only place at the the stadio (stadium) that I truly love to watch and experience the partita (game) is in Curva Fiesole where we even bought abbonamenti (season tickets) this year.

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Things have been rather calm in Florence these past couple of weeks with shops being closed and friends away on vacation. Besides my friends coming back to Florence, my other highlight this week was that my ortolano (greengrocer) finally reopened today after being closed for three weeks. I couldn't wait to go buy fresh fruit and vegetables from him. While he's been closed, I've been going to the three other ortolani in the area plus the mercato (market), but I haven't been as satisfied with what I purchased. I have realized in these three weeks just how great the quality of the fruit and vegetables that my local ortolano sells me.

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If I could've planned for my computer to stop working on me, it would not have been this week. All the service centers in and around Florence are closed, and some were already closed last week as well. The closest one to me will be open next Monday, but most of the others will be closed until the end of the month. I panicked Monday morning when my computer didn't start up. Fortunately, I have an extra computer that Alessandro uses so I could at least get on the Internet to get information about all the shops nearby. I couldn't work because all of my files were on my now broken computer although I could find most of them on my backup drive, which fortunately I just updated a couple of weeks ago.

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Living in Florence :: Family lunch a day early

Last Sunday, my suoceri (in-laws) were out of town so we didn't have our family pranzo (lunch). I missed the ritual of it all: my suocero (father-in-law) coming to pick me up, our talk in the car, my suocera (mother-in-law) standing at the door to greet me, our pranzo together, and my pisolino (nap). Because tomorrow I'm going out with my suoceri for lunch to celebrate Ferragosto (mid-August holiday), we decided to have our family pranzo today. To start out my day, I decided to go for a walk up to to San Miniato al Monte for the past couple of days and finally dragged myself up the scale (stairs) to go have a quick visit.

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Over lunch my girlfriend asked me if I still learned new words in Italian. Without hesitation, I said, "Absolutely!" She was concerned because she said that even after being here for 5 years, she didn't feel as if she was as fluent in Italian as she expected. We have both separately lived in France for a handful of years and both felt that learning French was much easier. We both felt that after living in France, we were fluent and didn't learn as many words every day. It seemed the typical expressions and words were used over and over again, which is a little atypical of Italian.

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When I started my blog in November 2004, I certainly didn't know what to expect and never imagined that I would write a thousand blog entries. If it wasn't for a friend of mine who asked me to consider starting a blog about my new life in Florence, I never would've thought about blogging. With my blog, I've had the opportunity to write about everything that pertains to my life in Florence, and have tried to keep away from making quick judgements and handing out stereotypes any time something didn't go my way.

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Living in Florence :: Feeling joyful and taking photos

Birthdays are happy days that I usually like to celebrate. Today is my mother's birthday and even though I'm happy that she was born, it still fills me with sadness now that she's no longer here. Last night, I had planned on going to Giardino di Boboli to walk around and write in one of my notebooks, but after getting out of the house late, I ended up walking around town and felt more like taking foto (photos) than writing.

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This morning I finally went for a run, and was pleased that the air wasn't yet heavy and humid. Usually at 8:30 am, the summer heat has already blanketed the city and it's impossible for me to run. For a few weeks I haven't gone running because I felt too lethargic with the summer heat and humidity. But these past few days, the temperatures and humidity have both subsided and it's one of the most pleasant times I've experienced this summer.

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Some days I wish I could visit my beloved city more often. I'd walk to different piazze and just sit down to watch the events that go on. I love admiring the surrounding buildings and monuments to see if I observe any new features or other peculiarities that I hadn't noticed before. I try to walk down different streets once in a while so that I can discover something new. It's so easy to continually walk the same paths over and over in such a small city, but sometimes it's nice to change.

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The beginning of August is the beginning of the holiday season for most. For the last couple of months, everyone that I met up with has asked me the same question, "Dove vai per le ferie? Where are you going on vacation?" My response was always the same: "Rimango a Firenze. I'm staying in Florence." I never had to explain my decision to anyone. Anyone who lives in Florence knows what a dream the city is in August: less traffic and quieter streets. There are, of course, a few disadvantages like, more tourists, closed shops and restaurants, and many friends and acquaintances are away.

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