The question bouncing around in my mind everyday is “Will I return to the States fluent in Italian?” It seems like an absurd question; a young woman, living in Florence, should naturally assimilate. Yet, the large American student population in Florence as well as the city’s increasing diversity skews the possibility of this outcome.
Do not get me wrong, people speak Italian. It pours out of their mouthes like a smooth Chianti Classico. Its an ideal dialect of Italian to surround yourself with if you are still learning. The Standard Italian taught universally is essentially the Florentine dialect due to the the monumental influence and contributions of the Renaissance. This does allow for a lot of pride to accumulate regarding their image, making diversity more of an issue. The dialect is pivotal to the identity over every individual on earth; the colloquial way of speaking defines who you are through every single word.
It is hard to jump right into the culture. I will admit, Florentines can be pretty proud. But, if you make an effort, they do reciprocate. The woman who works the register at the nearby cantinetta is potentially my new best friend. The initial awkwardness, unfortunately, can cause you to formulate a microcosm of America. It is scary how it is quickly and easily done. I am consciously avoiding this behavior like the plague.
This is what makes this experience a definitive ‘trip.’ It is an adventure with so much uncertainty it drives the anxious hyperactive Tri-state area side of me insane. I want to relax. I want to enjoy every bite of lampredotto, every sip of a cappuccino. There is a lot of hesitancy to accept the lifestyle here. Everyone knows its all temporary. Why can’t we pretend that maybe, for now at least, its permanent?
People ask if I will miss the states, my town, or New York. I say, why? I am here. Right now in this moment, probably eating something I never realized existed. I probably will rant very soon about the slight [region] shock it was for me to eat wholeheartedly Tuscan food. I indulged in Roman and Napoletana dishes for a little too long, denying the rest of Italy’s offerings for spaghetti alle zucchine. I mean it is not a terrible thing, but this was a wake up call imperative to my own gastronomic and overall cultural explorations. I was living in the dark; a comfortable and delicious dark.
This is my journey. I will attempt to translate, or write bilingual, or maybe even trilingual posts. This aspiration may or may not be short lived and, if anyone out there is reading my rants of sorts, please question or comment on anything that I quite possibly could be wrong (or right) about. I am not afraid of some honesty. I am being straightforward here with every experience and I hope to soon share the stories of those around me, with their permission of course. I am navigating a ship in strange waters, maybe to find some dazzling pot of gold. Or maybe a gorgeous island that I can take a nice snooze on.
Wish me luck.