by Melinda Gallo

Getting back in the swing of things

I went back to the mercato on Tuesday. It was closed on Easter Monday, Pasquetta. Our entire area seemed closed Monday. We had our windows open and our neighborhood was eerily quiet. I didn't hear any children in the nearby park where they usually play most afternoons. Some of our neighbors also seemed to be away because we couldn't hear them. Because the weather is a little warmer now, the windows to most apartments are open and I can hear a few of our neighbors talking, their TVs blaring, and the baby across the garden crying.

At the mercato, people asked me where my nipotina (niece) was. I took her to the mercato to show her off to the people I know there. They knew that I was looking forward to seeing her and her family (my sister and brother-in-law). To the guy at the pizzicheria (cheese vendor), I explained that I was going to Venice and wouldn't be coming by. I didn't want him to set aside any milk for me.

The ortolana (green grocer) who usually doesn't talk to me that much said, "Ti manca gią?" (Do you miss her already?) I nodded as I handed my fruits and vegetables for her to weigh.

The guy at the pizzicheria asked me as well about my nipotina. He was nice enough to set aside some milk for me. He knows that Dave and I drink it like most Italians drink wine. "Tre litri ti bastano?" (Are three liters enough for you?) We used to have a hard time finding our alta qualitą (high quality) milk in the clear plastic containers, but last week I noticed that the forno at the end of the aisle now sells them too. I didn't tell him, but now I'm not so disappointed when he doesn't have any for me.

My macellaio didn't say much to me on Tuesday when I bought a few things. Last Friday, he had invited me to have a drink with him at the bar inside the mercato and we talked for only a few minutes. I don't have much to say to him because we usually don't talk that much. Most of the time, his colleagues are close by and listen to everything we say.

He generally doesn't ask me questions about myself, but this time he asked me how long I've been in Italy. I told him that I've been here for a year and a half and that I also lived here for two years in 1997 and he said, "Quando eri una bambina." (When you were a child.) "No, avevo trent'anni nel 1997." (No, I was 30 in 1997.) He looked at me with surprise. "Non me lo dire! Pensavo che avessi meno di trent'anni ora." (You don't say! I thought you were less than 30 now.) I wanted to hug him because I was extremely flattered, but ended up just thanking him graciously.

It has been difficult getting back into my habit of going to the gym, the market, and cooking every day. The time I spent with my family was so fun that it felt almost like a vacation for me too. Now, it's like I have to get accustomed again to my life here in Florence.

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