Saturday, December 31, 2005

As this year comes to an end, I am hopeful with what the new year will bring to all of us. Right now we are having the coldest winter ever and the snow that fell a few days ago is still stuck to most rooftops. It's been dark and drizzly all day, but still we have hope for a bright new year.

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Friday, December 30, 2005

One thing I would never accuse the Italians of and that is favoring Italians over foreigners in shops or at the open market. After going to the same places for over a year, I've come to the conclusion that they try to keep track of who is generally next in line unless there are huge lines and then, you have to do it yourself. And if you don't keep track, usually some of the other customers will. Of course, things are a little different in some open markets, like San Lorenzo here in Florence, but that market is mostly for tourists.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Living in Florence :: Waking up to a few inches of snow

Last night at about 11PM, I was surprised by how light it was outside. On one of our windows, we have a thin curtain just so no one can see in. I opened the window and looked out. It was as if it were 7AM because of how light it was. It was snowing steadily for many hours and this morning there was at least four to six inches of snow on the ground, rooftops, and my poor plants!

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Living in Florence :: A flurry of snow and hot bagels

This morning, luckily, I went to the Co-Op grocery store to buy some food. It was freezing cold, probably about 30°F, but the sun was out. The little slivers of sun that I felt on my face didn't warm me up at all. After I walked the mile home with two bags of groceries, I thought my hands were going to fall off. I even tried to warm them up by running hot water on them, but that just made them hurt even more.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Living in Florence :: My visit to Monte Bello

I walked down via degli Alfani to via dei Servi where my friends, Maurizio and Dani, have a shop named "Monte Bello" where they make some amazing things. Many of which I bought when I lived in Florence before and then left them all back in the US. They take pieces of wood and design, carve, and paint on them, like paintings, boxes, frames, mirrors, and more unique artistic pieces.

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Today is Santo Stefano. Yet another holiday in Italy. Supposedly this holiday was introduced by the Italian government to extend the Christmas holiday by one day. Although others say that it's the day that announced the birth of Jesus. For whatever reason, today everything (except a few restaurants and some shops downtown) was closed. Even the little Chinese market, which is open every day of the year, was closed.

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

I received a few SMS from my Italian friends wishing me a Buon Natale (Merry Christmas). Many of them sent messages after dinner while others waited until midnight to send them to me. It was very sweet since these days not many of my Italian friends send cards and even fewer send emails.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Living in Florence :: Homemade Panettone

Today Simone called me to ask me to come by his restaurant before 5PM. He said he made me a Panettone for Christmas. Panettone is the Italian Christmas cake with candied fruit. They seem to sell it everywhere: at the supermarket, at bakeries, and even at the open market. Usually I get Pandoro, which is the same cake without the candied fruit. It comes with a bag of powdered sugar that you open and pour into the cake's bag and shake it.

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Living in Florence :: Last minute Christmas shopping

Today I walked all over town doing some shopping. I love shopping and I especially love shopping late in the season. I love the hustle-bustle. It's not like anyone in centro (downtown) was window shopping. Everyone had one thing on their mind: find more gifts.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Living in Florence :: Ci sono, ci sono...

Today I finally went to my yoga center in via de' Benci where two of my friends work: Annunziata and Rossella. I haven't seen them since I left for the US in October. It was great to see them both. Annunziata is going to India on Saturday and won't be back until mid-January. They embraced me tightly and said, "Finalmente!" (Finally!) It was great to see them both again.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Living in Florence :: 'Tis the season

You can definitely tell it's Christmas here in Florence. There are lights hanging between the buildings on all the major streets and there's a big tree with lights in Piazza Repubblica (which is in the picture here). I went downtown to window shop and to watch the crowds of people, mostly shopping in twos, searching for gifts and lugging bags around.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

I'm not opposed to nicknames; however, I don't like being called anything but my own first name. My niece, however, has a nickname for me that I love, which is "Mimi," but it's reserved for her. When I lived in England, almost everyone I knew called me "Mel," which I hated. It must have been a cultural thing since they took the first syllable of almost every woman's name as their nickname. "Sally" would become "Sal" and "Natalie" would be "Nat."

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

I visited my local chiosco (kiosk) the other day. The man, who is in his late 50's, sits with reading glasses on behind the plastic window with magazines neatly organized all around it. Every time I come by, he's flipping through the paper or a magazine.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

I've been going to the same macellaio (butcher) for over a year now. When he sees me, he smiles and winks at me. I'm always quite happy to see my white-haired macellaio with blue eyes. There is some unspoken pact between him and his colleagues. When they see me, they let him take care of me. So, I have only been served by the other butchers when he's not there at all.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Medicine or no medicine, I think colds just have to take their course. And, it doesn't help that I stay up until 2-3AM reading every night either. Although I have finished a few more books! I looked in the fridge at 1PM today and noticed that I had nothing for lunch. We didn't get up until after 11AM and were just starting to get hungry.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Still not feeling up to leaving the house, Dave went to the local alimentari (grocery store) to get us some more water without me. We seem to go through 6 liters in a little more than a day! It was after 7:30PM when he left, so I decided not to go with him because I figured the farmacia (pharmacy) would be closed.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Only a few days have I seen the sun shine for most of the day without raining. And, of course, it would be a day when I'm stuck inside sick. I sit at my computer because I've got no real excuse not to work and look out at the sun shining outside. I look at the plants on our terrace and the other rooftops while I work.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Dave has been sick all last week and I have been sick all weekend and we're both still struggling. I should've gone to la posta (post office) last week when I was well to pay our bollette (bills), but I kept thinking that maybe one more would arrive and I could pay them all at the same time. I wasn't happy to go outside because it was sprinkling, but I figured I had to since our Internet/phone bill was due today.

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Friday, December 9, 2005

Living in Florence :: Che vento oggi!

After lunch, I went for a walk to see my friend Simone at his restaurant. He told me that he'd be there early because he was changing the menu again. Since I didn't go to the gym this morning due to working late and getting up late, I decided to walk to Simone's restaurant.

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Thursday, December 8, 2005

Living in Florence :: Festa dell'Immacolata

Today was the Festa dell'Immacolata (Immaculate Conception's day) in Italy, which translated to large quantities of people walking the streets of Florence doing their Christmas shopping. The banks, post offices, and some of the grocery stores and other shops were closed, but many of the shops in the main shopping area, like in via Calzaiuoli, were open.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2005

As I walked to the gym this morning, I was wondering why even though there is a small marciapiede (sidewalk) on our street (and many streets downtown), people generally walk in the street. Even women pushing babies in strollers do the same. It sounds dangerous, but it really isn't as long as you know how to do it safely.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Dave found out on the Odeon cinema's Web site today that on Tuesdays there is an aperitivo (aperitif) for 5 Euros each from 8PM until the beginning of the film. We decided to go since normally we go to the earlier showing. And luckily, we didn't go any earlier because we had thunder and lightning since this afternoon.

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Monday, December 5, 2005

Well, I'm not home sick right now, but I can easily be tempted to buy a few American items, like Doritos, peanut butter, root beer, and few other things eventually. In via Ghibellina a new shop has just opened called, Sam's Market. They sell lots of American and imported items to all of us expats who have our cravings.

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Sunday, December 4, 2005

Today, I woke up and didn't feel great. I had a bit of a fever and so I decided to stay home (and mostly in bed) to relax. To me, relaxing means staying in my pajamas all day and lying in bed with a few good books. I was planning on going to an open market at Santa Maria Novella with a few friends, but I just didn't feel up to it.

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Friday, December 2, 2005

My friend Yoshie's son, Lorenzo, was born at the beginning of September this year. I didn't get a chance to see him before we left for the US because she was very busy taking care of her newborn and her other son, Davide. I was so happy when Yoshie called me to tell me that I could come to her place to see Lorenzo. I had been waiting for awhile to meet him.

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Thursday, December 1, 2005

When I went to the McRae bookstore last week to pick up a book on Munich before going, I received a flyer, indicating that Magdalen Nabb was going to be there. I hadn't heard of her before, but I was eager to meet a British murder mystery writer who lives in Florence. I know that there are many writers who live here even though there aren't any writing groups that I've heard about.

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