Postcards From An Italian Adventure: From Florence

Published Date Author: , August 27th, 2010

Postcards From An Italian Adventure:

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Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. Enjoy!

Monday, August 16th

Hi, Everyone,

Today’s blog post is more of an editorial, than my telling you about more adventures. As you must know by now, I love Italy. Today, some actions of other Americans made me very unhappy to watch, and embarrassed me, also. I shall start at the beginning:

Sunday has got to be the day when the stupidest Americans show up in Florence. I think it coincides with the groups from the cruise ships showing up in droves, but not all are off the ships.

Sunday, August 15, is an important holiday in Italy. Ferragusto is a national holiday, and coincides with the religious holiday of the Assumption of Mary. I went to Mass at the Duomo. The Bishop conducted the Mass, with an entire contingent of priests, with a candle light procession in and out of the main chapel of the Duomo. There was music from the great organ, a choir and soloists. All in all, a beautiful service. When the final procession of the priests, the bishops and entourage had filed out of the chapel, an American guy hops out of his pew, sets up a camera on a tripod right in the aisle, as church-goers were trying to leave. He became irate when the guard, very patiently, and quietly, told him to pack up his stuff. Incredible.

I left the church, went on a long walk, for about two hours. When I got back near the Mercato Centrale, I stopped at a nice little sidewalk cafe, for a glass of wine. Soon, 4 Americani, one couple about 60 years old, with another couple in their 20’s or early 30’s, came into the cafe. They appeared to be a mother and father, with their daughter and her husband. As the waiter approached, the older woman asked if they served beer or wine. The waiter, bless his heart, said, “No, Madame, we only serve water.” Then they all laughed, and sat down. The father pointed to the young woman, and told the waiter, “She is our negotiator”.

The waiter took their drink orders. The older woman asked if they had tequila. “No, Madame, we do not have tequila,” the waiter quietly responded. So the lady ordered a glass of wine. The daughter, the Negotiator, asked what risotto was, then shook her head, and ordered “Brushetta” for all. They were happy, and the young lady was pleased with herself.

While they waited, they continued, in their very loud voices, to proclaim how much they had seen, they had done this and they had done that, as if we, the rest of the patrons in the cafe, should be impressed. I finished my wine, quietly paid my check, and sneaked out, lest I be identified as one of them.

Why do people even bother to go to another country, when they cannot see the beauty that is before their very eyes, but only want other people to notice THEM! as if they were the points of interest. I do not understand it. Italy is full of wonderful, gracious people, who respect others, do not talk in loud voices (unless they are yelling at each other, or the butcher!) My philosophy is that I am a visitor in their wonderful country. I want to see as much of the culture, participate in as many activities, as I can. I want to be a temporary Italian. But, also, visitors should recognize that they are guests of another country, and as guests, should put on their “company manners”, and be a gracious guest, and not pretend that they are superior to others, simply because they are American. That type of behavior makes me sad, makes me angry and embarrasses me, also.

There are many things about being an American, that I love. But when I am here, those things float into the background, to be picked up again when I return to California. For me, now, I am Italian, and very proud of that!! I know there are stupid Americans in California, too, but they are so abundant there, that they do not stand out like they do here.

So, from now on, on Sundays, I will go to church, then stay out of the way of the tourists, until evening, when most of them have left. On that note, I will end my editorial, go out and have a nice glass of wine, somewhere quiet, untouristy, and continue my quest to be a temporary Italian.

The pictures accompanying today’s blog post, are different scenes, from different areas of this wonderful country. I hope someday, you will all be able to visit here, and I know you will remember your “company manners”.

P.S. After I had finished writing the blog post above, I wondered if I was making too much of the Ugly American. I went across the street to the OK Bar, with my iPad. One of the waiters and I got in a discussion about smoking.  He said all Italians smoke and they live longer than Americans. I thought about that for a while, then decided, yes, they don’t sweat the small stuff… they laugh and drink, and smoke.  One of the other waiters, who was off duty, asked me if I would look something up on Google for him – he only speaks a few words of English, that coincides with my few words of Italian. But we finally communicated, while the English speaking waiter was in the background, laughing hysterically. Italians have fun, even at work. And I knew then, that these guys, anyway, did not include me in the Ugly American group. So I felt better. Love those guys at the OK Bar.

Ciao for now,

Dolly

Want to Follow Bella’s Adventure Directly? Check Out Dolly Travels

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