Tag Archives: Florence

Pantomimes Anonymous

Two different Italians stopped me on the street today to ask for directions. On the one hand, I was proud because these authentic Italians mistook me as one of their own. I get a strange sense of satisfaction from being able to blend in with other cultures. However, this happiness quickly became became uncomfortable and embarrassing. This is because, wait for it….I can’t speak Italian!

Yes, my name is Emily Bennett, I’ve lived in Florence for three months and I still cannot speak Italian. I am so ashamed. For most people, the biggest worry while traveling abroad is whether they will be able to understand the locals. This, of course, leads to desperate hopes that most people will know English and even conversations stating how much easier and better the world would be if everyone just spoke one language (i.e. English). But what a horrific white-washing of culture that would be! Can you imagine living in a world where no one knows the subtle romantic quality of the French language, or the explosive passion of Italian, or even the mysterious Swahili?

I get it, it’s intimidating and embarrassing to attempt to speak a language that you haven’t mastered, especially to people who have been speaking said language since they were babies. Trust me, that is what got me in this situation in the first place. When I was studying in France, it was a whole different ball game. I had been studying French for six years before I was living on my own there, so I had a sturdy background of the language and was well-informed of the culture as well. This is the first time I have ever studied Italian, and I know what you are thinking, if I live in Italy, I should be learning the language twice as fast, right? No, wrong, completely wrong. Everyone here speaks English! At least the French have the decency to refuse to speak English to you! Obviously, it would have been much harder for me to survive here if people didn’t speak English, but I think I could have done it, and forcing me to attempt even the most broken Italian in every situation would have sped up my learning immensely. However, I am a self-conscious little baby when it comes to Italian. Too quickly will I revert to English, or not say anything at all. I go to the grocery store at least once a week and I think the only things I have ever said to any of the cashiers are “si” “no” and “grazie”.

Now that my time in Italy is coming quickly to a close, I wish I had pushed myself harder to learn the language and speak it. Honestly, it is a really horrible feeling to be in a country and unable to speak the language. It is embarrassing! Not to mention completely disheartening. I don’t mean for this post to be such a downer, but if you can learn anything from my little failure, really take the time to learn the language before traveling. It will make your time there much more rewarding, and the locals will definitely like you more. Also, don’t be afraid to forget about English and instead rely on whatever of the language you do know (miming helps too). It is much more endearing to see someone struggling to speak the language than one who just starts speaking English and assumes whoever they are talking to will understand.

Buon viaggio!

–Emily–

Como se dice “yum” in italiano?

emily on the duomo

I’m sorry if I have been a little quiet the past week or two, I’ve been busy getting settled into my apartment in Florence. Yup, Florence as in Florence, Italy. I have officially started the second leg of my amazing semester abroad. I have already had some interesting experiences here, but I’ll save that for another post. This subject is much more pressing: the food.

Obviously Italy is known for its food, and for good reason. I have been here for exactly thirteen days and I have already had the best gelato, sandwich, and duck that I have ever tasted. Let’s start with the Italian classic: the gelato. The first gelato i had was dark chocolate and it was the creamiest, most chocolate-y thing I have ever eaten! However, that feat was quickly defeated by an amazing hot chocolate I tried that was more chocolate than liquid. (And that was from McDonald’s! Try finding such an amazing cup of hot chocolate anywhere in America, let alone any McDonald’s in America. Actually don’t try, you won’t) Then I realized that there is a great gelato place literally next to my building that has one euro gelato. Yup, one euro! I don’t know if you can tell by my use of italics but this is all very exciting for me.

italy restaurant

For my birthday, my roommates and I went to a restaurant owned by a father and son duo that makes traditional Tuscan food. I asked the waiter (who was hilarious as a side note) what the best thing on the menu was and said “yeah that. I want that.” I didn’t know what it was but it smelled amazing when it came to the table (it turned out to be duck with really wide homemade noodles). I highly suggest this technique to anyone who finds themselves at a restaurant where you can’t read the menu. Or any restaurant for that matter – live a little!

best sandwich in the entire world period

Now, onto the best part. (Yeah, it’s getting better) I have had the official best sandwich in the world. I don’t care what you or anyone else has to say about some sandwich you ate who knows where that was “awesome”. No, I’m stopping you right there. This sandwich was the most delicious thing I have ever had the pleasure of eating. The bread was buttery and flaky and the prosciutto was salty but not too fatty and there was vegetables and this amazing buttery cheese spread thing that I don’t even know what it is but oh my goodness I couldn’t even find the words to describe it if I did. Plus it was HUGE and only five euros!! This place is also conveniently located right down the street from me (who knew I’d have such a prime location?) so I’ll definitely be eating more of their heart-stopping amazing bread and meats.

This post is getting a little long, and very self-indulgent. I’ll end with our greatest accomplishment – finding the secret bakery. It opens at 12 am and everything is fresh and…you know what we shouldn’t even be talking about this. It’s a secret! You will just have to come to Florence and ask for the secret bakery and see (I mean taste)  for yourself.

–Emily–