Another week in Florence comes to a close; I just can’t believe how quickly the time’s gone! I guess it’s because it’s becoming natural. This place really is becoming my home.
It hit me today as I was sat in the most adorable bookshop / cafe ever (more on that another day), and I started to think about all the things I’ve learnt since I’ve been here. Because, as much as so many of the things have felt incredibly natural (more so than I could ever have imagined), it has been a massive culture shock in other ways.
I can’t sit here and say it’s all perfect (although my Instagram definitely says otherwise); some things are really bloody stressful. But then all I have to do is look around me and soak in all the beauty and I’m like, meh, could be worse!
So, as I love a good list, I’ve decided to pinpoint the 14 biggest things I’ve learnt so far as an Italian resident. Some good, some bad, some really freakin’ weird.
1. No one is ever in a rush, ever. The thing I noticed immediately here was that EVERYONE IS SO GOD DAMN SLOW! I’m a gal that likes to pretty much run everywhere. And yes, okay, if I’m just taking one of my evening strolls around the city, of course I take my time and drink it all up. But if I’m hungry and want to go get me a Panini and someone’s just strolling along at snail pace in front of me… well, shit’s gonna hit the fan. Alas, it’s a daily occurrence here. Italians just don’t like walking fast apparently.
2. Time doesn’t really exist. This one I’m finding so hard to get used to; no one really cares about time here. I mean, that’s totally alien to me. I am so OCD with time it’s actually embarrassing; I get way to hung up about it. Here everyone just kind of turns up whenever, leaves when they want… it’s so chilled it’s ridiculous. I’d like to think this will start rubbing off on me so I can stop being so screwy about schedules. Cos they don’t exist here!
3. You will learn how to haggle like a pro. But not before everyone on the market tries to rip you off the second they see you’re English. I quickly realised that basic Italian and a diva attitude are the best way to fool them into bringing prices down; and MAN do you feel like a baller when you manage to shave off 2 precious euros. I didn’t choose the thug life…
4. If somewhere is further than 20 minutes away, people will think you’re bat shit crazy for walking it. Florence is such a tiny city, you can pretty much walk everwhere; which rocks for me. A) I love walking b) I’m a tight fucker c) it’s the only exersise I do. To the locals, anything over 20 minutes is a total mission… and annoyingly, I’m starting to become like that too! Distance has now become a major factor in my day to day plans. 15 minutes to the club? YOU MUST BE HAVING A LAFF?!
5.Clubs are weird. Really, really weird. And they have no respect for health and safety whatsoever. The first club I went to here had a toilet that was literally a hole in the ground. A HOLE IN THE GROUND. And the door didn’t even have a lock on it, AND anyone walking past could just pop their head up and see right in. Peeing in there was easily the most soul-destroying moment of my whole life. R.I.P dignity.
6. You’ll become friends with anyone. This is definitely more an expat thing than an Italian thing, but you really will hang out with anyone. I suddenly forgot basic social skills the second I got here; how to make friends being a massive one. So you just hunt people down and suddenly become BFFs with them through your shared social awkwardness.
7. Life admin is near on impossible. Day to day I can get by with very basic Italian, but the second life admin rears its ugly head my world just implodes. You have no idea how difficult it is to explain that you want to open a savings account to someone that speaks about five words of English. Just the thought of registering with a doctor or buying an Italian phone makes me want to rip my eyeballs out. Biggest lesson here: SORT OUT YOUR ITALIAN GIRL!
8. You’ll adopt the weirdest european sleeping pattern. I don’t know if it’s because I’m pretty much non-stop here, but if I don’t have my siestas over the weekend I become a walking zombie bitch. I NEVER napped back home (unless I was very, very hungover). Here I love nothing more than crawling into bed (fully clothed with all the lights on) at about 1 and sleeping until 3, ready to continue my day. It is just the snuggliest, most comforting two hours ever. Ah, bliss.
9. “Ciao Bella” will become the two most common words you hear every day. Like, what are you even supposed to reply to that? Just shut up. Please, stop.
10. You will simplify your language so much it sounds like you’re constantly talking to a four year old. And huge hand gestures become a standard part of your communication… even when you’re speaking to English people. I find myself talking like an absolute moron constantly without even realising it. Looking forward to bringing that back home at Christmas!
11. Food is life and you will become a massive fatty. Not really a surprise, is it? But until you’ve experienced it yourself, nothing can prepare you for quite how delicious every single thing tastes here. The effort they put into choosing ingredients and concocting these delicious treats is unbelievable. And words can’t express quite how much I’ve eaten since being here. Let’s just put it this way… I finally know what it means to have an hour-glass figure.
12. You will also become a food and drink snob. The thought of having a dominos ever again fills me with shame. Instant coffee? Nah mate. Even the idea of buying a sandwich from the supermarket or eating english icecream makes me shudder. I don’t know how I’m going to be able to handle life back home without seriously offending pretty much everyone I come into contact with.
13. Aperitivo is the best. thing. ever. (For those who don’t know) it’s basically when you buy a cocktail and then have the lion’s share of all this delightful buffet food. But not crappy sausages on sticks and all that, actual pasta dishes, cous cous, pizza, bread in oil, gnocchi… oh jesus, it’s everything that’s right with the world. It’s also the precise reason my arse now resembles two adjacent mountains.
14. Everyday is a new adventure. Everything aside, the best lesson I’ve learnt here is you’ll never stop learning. Every day I discover something, somewhere new. I feel like every other moment I am gaining a deeper understanding of the city and its culture. It’s pretty bladdy awesome.