A couple of weeks ago, my classmates and I were graced with the presence of Nita Tucker. She’s a writer, journalist, relationship-expert, consultant, and the founder of The Florentine — Florence’s only newspaper written in completely English. She is truly an inspirational woman, and if you don’t believe me, ask Oprah, who featured Nita on her show some years ago. One of our wonderful professors happens to be good friends with Nita, and thankfully she was in town and was able to stop by to share some of her wisdom. She shared a lot about her life and what she’s been through. At the age of 50, she realized that she had never lived in Europe (a dream of hers), and felt that it was “now or never.” Having been in love with Italy and particularly Florence, she made a decision to drop everything and come to Firenze with minimal cash and few people to call a friend. This, my friends, is cold, hard, precarious chancery. Her husband was not as supportive as he could have been, and her children were young, but she had a feeling in her gut that this was the right move. She told us about her struggles, and about her triumphs. She experienced things significant enough to write a couple of books about. Eventually, Nita took it upon herself to begin a newspaper in English—a brilliant idea, considering the second most common language spoken in Florence is English, after Italian, naturally. It was a huge risk, and certainly required guts on her end. She sacrificed a lot in order for the Florentine to work out, but today it’s read by English speakers and Italians alike. She told us that some English professors in Florence use articles from it to help teach their students English. Not only are their issues all over town, but they are present online, with an easy to navigate website. Evidently, things worked out for Nita, and this brought her to a socialite-status in Florence. She spoke about being friends with the Ferragamos, and on her website you’ll find photos of her posing in beautiful gardens, looking intellectual at book-readings, and speaking with Ted Kennedy. Nita is not your average American-turned-Italian.
When it all boils down, Nita is just an ambitious, curious, sweetheart. She’s got strong intuition, lofty goals, and an incredible drive. She’s got insight like you’ve never seen, and this has been displayed in her speeches and in her books (she’s published about 5). She was kind enough to inform us of her favorite hot-spots in Florence, which was definitely helpful for us students. Aside from all of this, she gave us some great, unforgettable advice.
Here are some things that stuck in my mind:
- “If you see an open door, go inside. You never know what you’ll see or who you’ll meet.” We were told that people here are generally open-minded and inviting. If you receive an opportunity of any kind, take it! What’s the worst that could happen?
- “Try to be interested, not necessarily interesting.” This reminds me to show people that you care about them and what they have to say, as opposed to superimposing your supposed “greatness,” and being selfish.
- Florence is definitely not the place for shy/timid people. Everybody here is very outgoing and charismatic.
- Italians are all about establishing relationships, through which people are overtly amiable and helpful. There is not so much customer service as there is kindness and personal relationships. If you’re nice, people will reciprocate. If you enter a store and simply say hello, you will be well respected.
Hearing Nita speak definitely opened Florence up to me, and explained a lot of the traditions and customs that I have seen but not quite understood.