Ciao a tutti! I’m Natalie, the new intern at studentsVille. I’ll be sharing everything I experience and learn from the Italian way of life for the rest of the summer, which I’m pretty excited about. Living in Florence for the past three weeks has been eye opening, nothing less than thrilling, and literally life changing. It’s my first time in Italy, so hopefully, I’ll give you the inside scoop on the Tuscan way of life through my own personal experiences.
So far, I’ve adjusted pretty easily to the culture, but there have been a few things that I have found that are a little different than what I’m used to in America (or at least in Indiana).
Eating: one of my favorite past times
Breakfast and coffee—As I walked into a café on my first morning in Florence, I had NO clue what was going on. It was packed; everyone was loud and had their caffè and paste in hand (coffee and pastries – not coffee and pastas). Aha! This is where I learned I had to pay first and then present my receipt for both my caffè and pasta (my personal fave being the sfoglia con ricotta). Also, lots of sugar seems to be incorporated into most Italian breakfasts. The pastries are delicious but very, very sweet. In the states, eating a pastry or donut is considered a treat, but in Italy it’s normal to eat one everyday.
Cheap meals? Supermarkets and outdoor markets are really the only places I’ve found to be reasonably priced here in Florence, and buying fresh local food helps me to try new things that I normally wouldn’t.
Gelato—I could literally live off of this stuff. But I try to limit my consumption to the best places around town, and I’ve learned to tell good gelato from not so great gelato (aka Americanized). Video on how to eat the best gelato in Florence coming soon!
So far my favorite gelaterias are:
Shoes, shoe, shoes—Even wearing some of the most comfortable shoes will make your feet sore with all the cobblestone streets. Italians are typically wearing ballet flats, simple sneakers that resemble Keds/Converse, or boots. Sandals are less common with the Italians, but I’ve found my happy medium between sandals and flats!
Traveling—I’ve been taking advantage of literally every single moment of my time in Italy. Which means weekend trips galore. When taking the trains and buses, you MUST validate your train and bus tickets (in the machines on the walls by the platform entrances at the train station – on the bus, the machines on board), or else pay the €50 fine—no thanks!
Living—This isn’t the case for all apartments in Florence, but mine has an exceptionally small shower, if you want to call it that. Take a look for yourself. No complaints here though! I love living in an apartment that has been here for over 700 years. I don’t know if you can find too many of those back in the States.
Ciao bella—Italian men are constantly hollering, staring, and “cat-calling,” which gets a little out of hand. At first, this behavior was a little humorous, then a little creepy, but now it’s just frustrating. Americans have definitely developed a negative stereotype in this country, if you know what I mean. So, in order to be respected, cover up and act like a true lady, ladies.
These things are easily learned with some patience and consideration for the Italian culture!
What have you found to be the most confusing, fascinating, or difficult Italian custom when first moving abroad? Share them in the comments below!