Defending the Florentines
Florentines have a bad reputation all over, and I think it’s about time that someone takes a stance and sticks up for them! I have frequently heard the two same complaints among American students about these infamous Florentines—their supposed blatant unfriendliness and responding back in English after you’ve tried speaking in Italian. As an outsider, I’ve been able to observe the native Florentines and discover the reasons behind their personalities. And I think after a year I have finally begun to understand them (oh no, does that mean once you ‘get’ them, you’ve gotten just like them?)
1. Their unfriendliness
2. “Ugh, they constantly answer in English!”
a) They’re in a rush
b) Their own English needs work
c) They’re trying to help you out
d) They want to show off
Keep in mind—answering in English doesn’t mean that your Italian is terrible! There is no need to get angry or frustrated.
3. Some final thoughts and advice for tourists in Florence
Don’t like being spoken to in English? Just politely ask if it would be OK to speak in Italian. I’m sure they’d be delighted to help you, if they’re not too busy (see number 2, letter a above).
(In restaurants only) A good way to bond with Florentines is to compliment them on how fabulous your meal was. They’ll warm up to you really quickly after that! Florentines take great pride in their cuisine and the hard work that goes into it!
Another way to bond is saying that you’re from New York City (don’t lie about it though!), since all Italians love New York. They will want to know everything about it, especially what it’s like living there.
Remember: be as cheerful and outgoing as possible (see number 1); you’ll get treated a lot better!
Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world with some of the greatest people…once you can appreciate the way they are, at least.