by Melinda Gallo

An aperitivo with Mitch Ryan

As part of the FITC Creative Campus here in Florence, Mitch Ryan was present for an aperitivo (apéritif) at the Paperback Exchange to perform a few pieces and to discuss his career. Bari Hochwald and Aaron Craig, the two co-artistic directors and founders of FITC, have created a Creative Campus here in Florence to promote the positive side of the American culture here.

One of the reasons that FITC Creative Campus is so important is because a lot of American students come to Florence for a few months or a year and are unable to find any activities that would be useful for their experience while living abroad.

Americans, and especially the students, have a bad reputation of being drunk and walking around with opened bottles of alcohol. I read on the Firenze Night & Day blog that when she went to a restaurant in Florence, she said that there were the solite americane mezze nude ubriache (usual half-naked, drunk American girls). At first, I was offended by the remark, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the stereotype wasn't far from the truth.

It's true that the students need something to engage them with the community, but also a way to meet locals without having to go to the local bars to do so. So, I'm wishing the FITC Creative Campus much success.

It was exciting to meet Mitch Ryan who recited a few passages of Hamlet and discussed his career. We were an intimate group of expatriates who truly enjoyed his presence. Most of us are concerned about the American students who could use a few extracurricular activities to improve their stay in Florence.

I too was an exchange student for my Junior year abroad in Lyon, France. And, many of the people would go out to drink at night because even though we were only 19 or 20, it was legal. I was one of the lucky ones who was an au pair during that year, so I didn't go out at night. I also was able to integrate a bit more with the French life because I didn't talk to any of the other Americans in my program for the entire year. On the downside, I was a bit lonely, but on the upside, I spoke French fluently.

I wish there would have been a Creative Campus like the one that FITC has created. It would have been nice to have met up with Americans and French students without having to go out late every night. I have nothing against having fun, but if fun always includes alcohol, I find that a bit disconcerting.

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