I am Italian, with true Sicilian blood rushing through my veins. I’ve been to Italy twice before this trip, have mastered the art of speaking with my hands, and have been religiously devoted to carbs since I was a small child. But despite these connections to the land of my ancestors, nothing has taught me more about being Italian than the streets of Florence.
This city is unlike any European city I’ve ever been to. And to give you a sense of what we’re learning here, I’ve decided to impart a few lessons we’ve been taught by Firenze.
1) Be cautious at the street market. The street vendors are unrelenting. Just ask Monica. They use every trick in the book to get you to buy something. They call you “bella” they promise you lower prices, they wink their dark Italian eyes and make flirtacious passes at you. But don’t be fooled, because there is always a cuter purse for a better price just around the corner.
2) Never wear a tank top and shorts when visiting the Florence churches. It’s not just the Duomo that requires shoulders and knees to be covered. Churches like Santa Cruce and Santa Maria Novella also have dress codes. So dress accordingly, or you’ll end up wearing something like this….
3) It is perfectly acceptable to have gelato more than once a day. But only if it’s the right kind of gelato. This pearl of wisdom was given to us by Dr. P, who warned us to look for the signs that say “made fresh in the store” when scouting gelato. So even though there are a hundred gelato stores on every street, it’s worth the extra walk and will power to get the best.
4) Anything that can have a picture of the David on it, will have a picture of the David on it. Bike shorts, aprons, calendars, postcards, keychains, umbrellas, even soap! If you’re a David enthusiast you’re in luck! You could decorate an entire house with the amount of souvenirs they sell here. But forget about trying to get your own picture of the statue. If you even try very angry security guards will yell at you (right Shan?)
5) If you don’t like carbs, don’t come to Italy.
This is only our second day in Florence, and I’m sure we’ll learn a lot more in the days to come. And who says we’re not really studying on this trip??