When we were in Rome and Sorrento last week, we met a lot of people who were curious as to why we were living in Florence. I thought it would be obvious seeing as though Florence is quite charming. But, most of the Italians we met said that Florence was too touristy, and that è bella ma sporca (it's beautiful, but dirty). Although everyone did say that Florence is una città a misura d'uomo (a city on a human scale).
I absolutely agree and I certainly love the fact that I can go outside my door and walk around the city. I love that I don't need a car or take a bus to get around town. It's a big city, but small in size.
I love Florence even though it is a little sporca in some areas. I love the feeling I get when I walk around the city. I love that I'm surrounded by art, that I can step inside any of the multiple churches around town, that I can walk along the Arno river, and that I can sit down in any piazza with my eyes closed and feel like I am truly in another world.
Many of the Italians told me that they like the Florentines because they are scherzosi (playful), but they all said that you have to know them well to become friends with them. Even my Florentine friends say that i fiorentini sono chiusi (the Florentines are closed), but I think it's all relative. Many have told me that the veneti (Venetians) are much worse although I don't know.
I have a few Florentine friends who have been my friends since 1997 or 1998. When I went back to the US for five years, we lost contact, but once we found each other again, it was as if no time had passed. We are as close now as we were before. As far as meeting new Florentines, I'd say that I have a handful of new conoscenti (acquaintances), but only one or two new amici (friends) since we arrived over a year ago.
In Sorrento at the conference last week, one woman invited us to stay at her place in Verona if we ever go there to visit. We only sat with her for a few minutes during breakfast on Saturday and yet there she was writing down her cell number for us.
At the company in Rome where we're working, a lot of the guys there want to go out the next time we come to Rome. They want to eat out and show us some more of the city. Even the CEO wants to take us to a particular restaurant whose name I have since forgotten. And, Enzo, with whom we work the closest, wants us to plan on staying for the weekend in Rome and so we can all go out over the weekend with a large group of people.
In Florence, many of my friends are unfortunately either too busy or too tired to go out. We rarely talk on the phone although sometimes we email each other. Many of my friends here would rather stay home after work to relax than go back out to face the city again. Also, a lot of my friends have are unable to drive in centro (downtown) since you have to have a resident permit.
Maybe my Swedish friend, Kerstin, who lives south of Rome was right when she said, "Firenze è intensa"(Florence is intense). At first I wasn't sure if what she meant was negative or positive, but in the end I do agree that Florence is intense in that it evokes a strong emotion in all who come here.
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