Happy Friday and a tip for expats

August6 This was a fun week for the Hash Family -- busy, but definitely super fun. We had our first meeting at Livia's asilo nido (daycare)...she starts on Monday! We are equal parts insanely excited (I don't remember what a full, uninterrupted work-day looks like) and really sad (you know, parental attachment issues and all). Here in Italy they do a fairly regimented acclimatization period for kids starting nido, so she won't be a full-timer until mid-October. I think it's an adjustment period for the parents, too.

This weekend we're heading out to Greve for the Chianti Wine Festival. I'm so excited. Greve and the nearby countryside are pretty much my favorite part of Tuscany, so pair that with copious amounts of wine and I'm a happy girl. Plus, it's going to be hot in the city on Saturday, so escaping to the countryside will give us about 5 degrees of relief, which is a big deal!

My friend Georgette has a great post today on how to make friends in Florence. It's full of helpful information for the newly-arrived that are looking to meet new people. Her list of social/networking groups, in particular, is awesome. If you are planning a move here or looking for ways to meet new people you need to see that list.

If I were to add my own general tip for expats to her list I would say this -- which has been the #1 thing in my own life that has expanded my social circle: share your friends. When I first arrived Georgette was the very first person that I met. She introduced me to a few people that became good friends. Over the past few years I've met some amazing people that I've introduced to her. I've made and shared other friends the same way with other people in town. 

Being an expat doesn't guarantee that you'll love everyone you meet, but one of the first things that goes through my mind when I meet someone new is "Who else is going to love this person?" Everyone here is far from home and your friends become your family. People are always coming and going. Whenever I have the opportunity to connect with someone or be connector I take it. That is my top advice for expats. Share your friends.

Summer in Florence

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Well folks, we're deep into the heat of summer here in Florence. Today it's hitting 88, which feels downright cool compared to the 95 degree days sandwiched on either side. I find myself wondering how I ever made it through last summer pregnant, and then I remember that I never left the house during daylight hours. I was basically a vampire those last few months.

The new neighborhood is really growing on us. My expat friends might be shocked to hear this, but I think I like living in centro better than via Romana. Everything just feels so close and easy. Of course, it takes a little work here to find high quality groceries/bread/wine since so much is geared to tourists, but generally speaking it's such a fun place to be.

The photo above is Rob taking part in our new morning routine. Livia has us up early -- between 7 and 8am -- so we take the fam for a peaceful, cool early morning walk every day. Our main stop is to the water station built into the side of Palazzo Vecchio. At that hour of the morning it's typically us and the over 65 Italian crowd. Needless to say Livia is always entertained!

Living in Florence: Strolling Around Town

photo (26)   photo (27) Since we got back to Florence a few days ago we've been in recovery mode: living on coffee and walking around town a lot to try and help our bodies adjust to the time zone change. We're also on our post-travel "detox diet." We eat mostly veggies, rice and simple pastas in an attempt to keep our bodies from working too hard. Seeing as though we ate out at least once a day in the U.S. the detox diet is even more important for us this time around. So far everyone seems to be adjusting well.

Speaking of adjusting well, Livia is officially a little world traveler! She was fantastic on both flights, and adjusted to the time changes like a pro. We may make a point to travel a bunch while she is still young and low key.

This is also the time of year that we start thinking about what we want to "see" in the city before tourist season officially ramps up. Most of the museums will be too crowded to really enjoy starting in a few weeks, so we try to get in and check things out while they are still relatively calm. Any suggestions?

Living in Italy: Tales from an Italian Grocery Store

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When friends and family visit us one of the first things that they typically comment on is all of the meats and cheeses out and on display in the grocery stores. To the American eye, seeing unrefrigerated meats and cheeses is a bit odd -- but, it's totally normal here.

Particularly around the holidays we've noticed that the selection expands and special tables like this one pop up in most grocery stores. This photo is from the Conad grocery store near the Ponte Vecchio. In this market in particular it's fairly common to hear tourists exclaim, "This huge hunk of parmesan is only 11 euro!"

Tourists, vegetarians and PETA supporters beware: this time of year we've also noticed an increase in the number of whole pig heads in the deli area. It is apparently some kind of holiday specialty to get meat cut from it...can anyone weigh in on this for us?

Florence, Italy: When to Visit the Uffizi

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If today's birthday lunch date to Uffizi was any indication, 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon in December is an excellent time to visit the museum! We go often in the off-season, but this was by far the emptiest we've ever seen it. It was so nice to visit some of the more popular rooms -- which we typically skip because they are so crowded.

We also had lunch at Buongustai, which was great as always. Here's to making the last year of my 20's count!