As Requested

Jeff emailed me this morning saying, forgivably, that poetry isn't his cup of tea and that he'd like to know more about local color. I realize while Poetry Week was a thumpin' good time for me, it might not have been for others, and I apologize. This is why my email is on my blog! Email me/comment if you'd like to know something specific, like to see a picture of something, have suggestions, etc. Ideally, I'm not writing on this blog just for a sense of accomplishment, but also to entertain - I'd like to succeed at it.

Jeff's email certainly got me thinking this morning, so I began journaling about it, and this is more or less what I came up with.

There are two, relatively easily, recognizable spheres of being in Florence : The Tourist World and The Italian World.
The Tourist World, strangely enough, doesn't just contain tourists, but also the Italians who want to profit from them being here. If that sounds negative it's mostly because it is. I also use the word "Italians" loosely since there are often those not from Italy who would like you to believe they are. Sadly, they often get away with it since Americans can't recognize their accents. Basically, if you're a girl these characters simply want to get you into bed immediately, and as fast as possible, and if you're a boy, they try to cheat you. Needless to say, they're usually more interested in the former. I know this sounds harsh, but once you realize that most of the "nice Italians" you've been talking to are neither nice OR Italian, you begin to expect the worst from the people that frequent touristy places. It is, however, something that I have to deal with as an American girl here. Sidenote: I refuse to wear pajamas and mosquito repellent to deter the undesirables, but thanks anyway for your astute advice Ale.

The Italian World isn't vastly different from The Tourist World in terms of activity, though harder to transition into when starting in The Tourist World. I'm not sure if I've really met any nice Italians that I've been able to see on a regular basis yet. There are the ones I see every day when I get coffee and I've met college students, friends of Vassi's, but I haven't really found any I would consider friends, unfortunately. I'm working on it.

The main differences between the two worlds - the Italian World inhabitant still goes out clubbing, to bars, etc. - lie in location and visibility.
Location - The clubs are farther away from the center, I would say, and the bars in which I've found the best Italian to American ratios are often small, restaurant-like places where you can get a nice glass of wine. There are bigger bars that aren't seen as necessarily "touristy" are still overrun with Americans, but I have a feeling that it's because there are a ridiculous amount of us here.
Visibility - This is where it gets confusing. A lot of my experience here, so far, has been influenced by the fact that I'm fundamentally different from the other half of the population - I have hips and other physical traits that distinguish me from a crowd. As I've told you before, when I walk down the street I get a plethora of colorful comments, which I don't get when I'm in an Italian club, or in a particularly Italian place. I think I'm still, despite my best efforts, recognizable as American.
This is a contradiction. When I'm in touristy places with probably 50 other American girls, the men make me feel like I stand out from the crowd. They call at me, make eyes at me that look like they're trying to melt off my clothes with their eyes - I'm glad that skill hasn't yet been perfected in Italy. However, when I'm in a largely Italian place, standing out from the crowd, the only American girl in the place (besides my Bethie), I feel less visible. Strange.
Another strange observation is this: I've felt more culture shock from my northern brothers and sisters than from the Italians. I have no problem with non-existent personal space, I'm affectionate. I have no problem with not drinking coffee after lunch time, I'll refrain. But when northern boys say candid, vulgar things about girls, or ask me forward questions about sex, this is often the response, "we don't say that in the South." It's comforting to have another southern belle here with me, or else I would feel adrift.
I find it increasingly more interesting how being around another culture makes you realize things about your own. I am, inevitably, making generalizations that aren't always true and I apologize if I've offended anyone. I also apologize if this isn't the objective view of local color that was desired, but this is after all, the world according to me and these are the only pair of eyes I have.
I think maybe my next themed week should be Local Week! where I make it my goal to meet a different local every day. Let me know if you think that would be interesting, and indeed, safe.


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