Published: February 12th 2009December 18th 2008
Ceiling of the Duomo
The beautiful dome in Florence, the first created since the ancient Romans.
A reflection on Italy:
I am currently sitting in my apartment in Florence wishing that I did not have to leave Europe. Everything that I have done upon entering this Continent has been an eye opening, learning experience. In order to prepare for my trip I read other travel blogs, watched movies, and read up on current events, not that any of it readied me for the four months in Italy. Here is a list of things that I will and will not miss about the country I have called home.
1. I will miss the shopping. Okay I realize that this is probably the most superfisal thing that I could put first, but it is the truth, no point lying. Most of the worlds top fashion houses produce at least some part of their garments in Italy, more specifically in Prato. A small city located 30km from Florence, which also boasts the highest consintration of Chinese within Europe. Hows that for globalization, people pay thousands of dollars for a hand-bag that was made in Italy by Chinese workers. I find it ironic that the quality is deemed better simply because it is made in Italy
Just don't look down.
Climbing the 500 steps to the top.
and not China. I am not by any means stating that they are the same, just that people, myself included, pay that much thinking that it is made by old Italian men in small buildings who have been making purses, gloves, shoes for hundreds of years. At least that was my belief before coming to this country. Now I know that its all the same except for the address. The leather in Italy is some of the finest quality a person can get, I don't know if its all that pasta or if they rub the cows down at night to make their skin more supple. Personally I will have a hard time going back to the standard thick rough textured leather that many companies use for the wares. Having purchased a leather coat, several pairs of gloves and a bag, I can feel the difference in the materials, plus the cost is much cheaper here at the San Lorenzo Market than in the stores at home in the States for the same goods. Almost every Italian in Florence will be wearing a leather jacket on a cold day. Its a fact, for the past month I have rarely seen
On closer inspection.
Hell with all its demons.
someone not wearing the staple black jacket. San Lorenzo is a haven for the bargain hunter as well as the small shops (which usually sell the exact same product for much cheaper in the market).
1-a. Window shopping and vintage shopping are probably my two other favorite things in addition to number 1.
2. The food. You can never order a bad meal. Period. And one word, gelato, simply the best in the world.
3. The friendly people that I have met. Even when there was a language barrier the person/people I would be speaking with would still be open and helpful.
4. My apartment. Even with its quirks and problems at times, the place is just like I imagined an apartment in Italy to look like. Since it was located in the city center I am always close to the action if I want to be, but the street we live on is located on a quiet street so you can still get sleep at night. The high ceilings make the place even larger, creating an old world feeling. I'll even miss our land lady, Clara, whom I only saw twice, when she came to turn
on the heat and move furniture into our place.
5. The way people cannot seem to understand the concept of a line (queue). I hate how I could be standing in line waiting for someone to help me and an Italian will walk in and demand to be helped all the while I am standing there patiently waiting to be helped first. It can be so frustrating at times that I just want to be the typical rude American and shove my way in front of them, but it has been so engrained into my head that it is rude that I can't. So I end up waiting even longer because of it. By the end of this semester I finally got the hang of things by just standing super close to people and pushing my way to the front.
6. Which brings me to the next thing I will not miss, the lack of a personal bubble in Italy. People here don't care if they are invading your space. There could be a completely open bus/room/restaurant and someone will still sit directly next to you, granted the space allowed is small compared to America
where there are bigger buildings and more land to space things out on.
7. The crazy bikers and scooters. I have been hit by a bike more times than I care to remember all because I didn't get out of their way quick enough, even though there has been ample room surrounding my person for them to go around me. Apparently I was always in path of least resistance.
There are more photos below