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

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‘Una razza morente’

When my up-stairs neighbour finds an article she thinks I can’t live without reading, she tapes it to a packaged merendina snack and throws it at my head as I pass under her window. Not a photocopy, the original. Signora Norma never worries about keeping information for

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‘Compiere gli anni’

If you want to have many birthdays, live in Italy. Together with Japan, Italy boasts the longest life span in the world. Thirty-six paid vacation days a year and the Mediterranean diet are probably partly responsible. Frequent art-filled walks and friendly piazza talks may also have something to

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Enamoured expatriates of Florence

One of the better known expatriates who made Florence his home, at least in the circle of art historians and American residents, was Bernard Berenson (1865-1959), the eminent art connoisseur and collector, author of Florentine Painters of the Renaissance (1896). But like many celebrated people, there are two versions

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‘Arriviamo al punto’

English speakers follow a straight line; Italians talk in circles. If you engage in intercultural communication on a daily basis, this is something you probably already know, but possibly have never thought about. So let’s think about it now, shall we?   I’ll start by saying

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Prego

"Prego is one of those words. It opens all doors."

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‘Avere fegato’

I'd been recently hired by a Tuscan regional association whose goal was to provide youth services and career training to young Italians who wanted to become more desirable candidates for the international job market. During a workshop on writing resumes my student, Claudio, raised his hand to adamantly proclaim

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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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