by Melinda Gallo

Tomorrow I take off for California for a couple of weeks. Iíve been a little sad to leave my city lately, but I am happy to see many people I havenít seen in a long time. The timing around my viaggio (trip) is to surprise my niece for her 11th birthday. I havenít seen her since Alessandro and I were out in California in October 2007. The saddest part about my trip is that my marito (husband) is staying behind in Florence. I love it when he comes with me because heís my favorite piece of the city that I love.

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Life is full of wonderful surprises. One thing I love about living in Florence is that I see people I know and we stop to chat. There is a shop that sells all the Fiorentina paraphenalia in via del Corso where I go once in a while. Over the past few years, Iíve bought gifts for others and myself. In that time, Iíve come to know the two guys who run the shop, Simone and Claudio. We talk about the partite (games) and the calciatori (soccer players) when we meet up. Today while I was talking to Claudio, Simone ran in and said, ďFelipe sta arrivando. Prepara una maglia da firmare. (Felipe is coming. Get a jersey ready for him to sign.)Ē

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On Monday morning after having a coffee with a friend, I popped into Museo Stefano Bardini. Iíve been wanting to go back since I first went last year after it reopened. When I walked by and saw that it was open I couldnít resist not going for a visit. I learned that the museo (museum) is only open a few days a week: Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

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This morning I was unable to get motivated while sitting in front of my computer so I decided to go to the Uffizi. Iíve been wanting to go back ever since I purchased my Amici degli Uffizi (Friends of the Uffizi) annual tessera (card) last week. The woman who was working in the office asked me if I was able to visit all the museums last year. I realized that I had been to most of them, but not the Uffizi. Even though I walk past it almost every day, I shy away from going sometimes because either there are large crowds to content with or there is just so much to see.

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Today is a big day: the end of the holiday season and the beginning of the saldi (sales). The Italians say, "Con l'Epifania tutte le feste vanno via. With the Epiphany, all the holidays go away." Epifania is the last festa (holiday) until Pasqua (Easter). In Florence, the day after the Epifania marks the start of the saldi. I noticed yesterday that a few of the shops were closed, but some of the ones that were open were already offering unadvertised saldi.

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Living in Florence :: First sun of the year

Today was the first day in at least a week that the rain didn't wake me up. It was so beautiful outside that I decided to walk up to Piazzale Michelangiolo where I haven't been since it snowed two weeks ago. With blue skies and much cooler temperatures, I bundled up and headed out the door. I walked across Ponte alle Grazie and noticed that the water level in the Arno magically lowered. I stood there for a few minutes and noticed that on the south side, the water seemed to glide under the ponte (bridge) and on the side toward Ponte Vecchio, it loudly crashed into waves.

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Living in Florence :: Beginning the year full of hope

The last day of the year was rainy. It hasn't stopped raining much today, but when it did, I went outside to take a few foto (photos) in the afternoon and in the early evening. I walked to Ponte alle Grazie to look at the Arno and the views of my beloved city. With all the rain we've been having in Tuscany, the Arno has continued to rise. It has even changed color and is now a light brown. Even though nothing along the Arno changes, I still love the views from Ponte alle Grazie in both directions: toward Ponte Vecchio and toward San NiccolÚ.

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