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Useful resources about life in Florence, Italy, focusing on the international community.

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Back to the future

It is no secret that Italians are leaving bigger cities in search of a slower paced rural lifestyle. The current revival of small towns throughout Italy is allowing people to rediscover the beauty and  benefits of a more simple and traditional way of living. Tourism is also following the

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‘La politica cosa sporca’

Sitting on the terrace in Chianti, happy as a clam, I was enjoying my first meal al fresco in eight months. It was my friend Edoardo’s birthday, and the spring air was crisp and the company warm. Then suddenly the winds changed.   “So, the government has

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Foreigners get the vote

The political scene is heating up here in Italy as the countdown begins for the 2006 elections. The convoluted debates, internal factioning, and heavy accusations, have already begun as candidates and their parties begin vying for voter’s support to win the next 5-year run as Prime Minister.

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Enamoured expatriates of Florence

DH. Lawrence was a bit of a bad boy. Lady Chatterley’s Loverwas the last and probably the best-known novel by the British writer (1885-1930), but in 1928 when it was published it was considered so scandalous and sexually explicit that the only place Lawrence was able

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‘Non si fa’

Italians, as a race, are fairly relaxed. They will not obsess about politically correct word choice or nit-pick about pseudo moral dilemmas. They have great capacity to put things in perspective and avoid unnecessary fuss. But there are some things that you cannot do in Italy. Some things that

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Il conto per favore

“Il conto per favore.” That’s how you ask for the bill in Italian. And now that you know, you might as well forget it. It’s not worth your brain space. ...

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Enamoured expatriates of Florence

‘Arethusa rose from her couch of snows in the Acroceraunian mountains,’ recites Audrey Hepburn as Princess Ann in the 1953 film, Roman Holiday. She quotes it as her favourite Keats ...

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‘Fare lo shopping’

There are many advantages to shopping in Italy. Everyone knows that for high quality and chic designer clothes this is the place to buy. Besides, you will almost always come away with more than you bargained for, at least culturally speaking. One morning of healthy Italian shopping will teach you

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Enamoured expatriates of Florence

While there has always been a tradition of creative English and American expatriates living in Florence, there was also a small Russian contingent, including the brief stays of the writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881) and composer Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-1893). Although most of these foreigners came to Florence seeking sun,

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‘Un popolo timido’,

If you really want to make an Italian squirm, politely listen to what he has to say. Sit with your hands in your lap and nod attentively after each of his emphatic affirmations. For an Italian, there is no worse scenario. Why? Because Italians are fundamentally shy. “Siamo un

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‘Gli Azzurri’

W hen gli Azzurri, the Italian National Football team, are together on the field, Italy’s citizens call themselves Italian. Other times they are veneziani, fiorentini, romani, o siciliani. Other times they walk their regional walk and talk their regional talk. But when those blue-shirted fellows step

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The ‘Grassroots Mission’ of the U.S. Consulate

Most people who have spent some time in Florence are aware of the existence of the U.S. Consulate here. Some may have even used it for official reasons; for reporting lost passports, obtaining visas for entry into the U.S., for voting abroad in U.S. elections, etc. Or,

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Enamoured expatriates of Florence

Late 19th century Florence was filled with English and American expatriates; in fact, 30,000 of the 200,000 residents of Florence were Anglo-Florentines who had adopted the city. There seemed to be a particular lure to Italy for writers and creative intellectuals, especially British poets, such as the

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‘Uno dev’essere sveglio’

Amongst the innumerable laws that crowd the Italian constitution, I’m told there’s one about pedestrians having the right of way. I, however, have never seen it happen in real life. ...

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‘Entrata Libera’

The shoppers who flock to Florence from all over the world come with the strange misconception that shopping in Italy is fun. Armani’s class, Ferragamo’s craftsmanship, a bit of Versace sparkle, and a dash of Valentino red might make you think so. Fun, however, is not

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Italian girls are easy too?!

Italian customs and culture you may not have known.

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Enamoured expatriated of Florence

Florence is a city that has spawned many illustrious and famous names, from Dante to Machiavelli to most of the Renaissance artists to Galileo. But more recently, in the last hundred and fifty years or so, Florence’s most famous citizens have all been foreigners. Inspired by the Tuscan

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‘Gli Italiani parlano con le mani’

Elena is twenty-five and has been for the past five years. She was born six years younger than her brother and I but stayed younger only until she learned to talk. We call those the good old days. Elena is what Italians call una pepperina. It means she has

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‘Anche il calcio dev’essere bello’

It was Sunday afternoon and we were sitting around watching soccer. Actually, we were sitting around watching people watch soccer. “Quelli che il calcio, Those Who Soccer” is one of Italy’s best loved programs and an absolute bore. The real matches are only shown on cable

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‘Gente Simpatica’

It’s day five of their education abroad adventure in Florence, and my students are worried. Overseas for the charm of glossy exported Italianness, most are shocked to discover that the Italians they’ve encountered in the bars, banks, and Benettons throughout the city are as expressive as

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June in tuscany

June is a magical month in Tuscany.  The nights are alive with a thousand noises, lights, and scents.  This atmosphere is well caught in the Pfeiffer-Everett film of A Midsummer Night?s Dream, shot in Italy.  June is the month of midsummer, when Tuscan days are

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Everybody outdoors

If you are anything like me you will have taken a look through your Florence guidebook on the flight over. Trying to be ‘good,’ I start with the section about the history of the city, but eventually the temptation to skip straight to the section on shopping or

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‘Raccomandato’,

Some say that to get a good cup of coffee in Italy, you need to be friends with the barman. It is also said that to get hired in this country you have to be friends with the boss. Well, maybe you don’t have to be friends exactly,

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‘La Familiarit’

If you want to be successful in Italy, get yourself a newsagent. Mine is called Matteo. He sells papers, but his news is free because he sees it as his duty to tell you everything you need to know. Should you try the new trattoria in Porta Romana? Should you

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