I can’t believe I only have one more week in Florence, and I can’t believe I have already been here for more than two weeks. In some way it seems a lot longer than that, in others I feel like it’s way shorter than that. As I now approach the stage where I tried to not be classify as a tourist in the city (this isn’t really working, since I am Asian, and I usually carry a camera around my neck), there are various observations I would like to share.
First of all, Italians smoke a lot. Although the law prohibits smoking in a contained area (i.e.: restaurants, museums, libraries…), it doesn’t stop people from smoking in the street, standing or walking. Almost once a day I would get stuck behind a person smoking while the wind is blowing toward my face. Not the most pleasant experience.
Second, walking in the middle of the road is normal. Sure the cars honk at you (sometimes), but if you are walking in the middle of the street, it’s not really a problem. The locals are doing it, the tourists are doing it, and sometime the sidewalk just isn’t wide enough to have more than one person walking on it. Italians also don’t follow the traffic lights that well, at least not the pedestrians. Green light obviously means “go”. Yellow means you should still cross the street, even though it means there are cars waiting for you to do so. Red means that you should cross the street without getting yourself killed, which isn’t really that hard, since cars stop for pedestrians, even though the lights indicate that they shouldn’t be crossing.
Third, Italians don’t really know that many Asian countries other than China and Japan. I have been called Japanese for multiple times I was here. Can’t really say that I blame them, since there are a lot of Japanese tourist groups here, but I was a little irritated nevertheless. When I was in Pisa, there was this guy trying to sell me stuff in front of the leaning tower. He tried to guess where I am from, and Japan and China were the only two countries he could come up with. Needless to say, I didn’t buy any thing from him. The other time I was on the train with a group of people coming back from Siena. There was this man who started talking to us, and eventually asked where I am from. I told him I am from Taiwan, and he tried very hard to think about where Taiwan is. At a certain point he came up with: “Taiwan is part of China, no?” I was too tired to argue at that point, but it turned out that he was asking whether Taiwan is geographically part of mainland China. I was happy to tell him that Taiwan is an island off the coast of China.
Last, Florence is not the cleanest city in the world. This is understandable, as with the number of tourists here every single day, the ground is bound to have trash on it. But not only that, you can also find dog poop on the ground, which sometime could be pretty gross. I will admit that the city does put some effort in cleaning the mess every day, as early in the morning I can usually see special cars/trucks spraying water and cleaning the streets. I do wonder if Italians recycle at all, since people pretty much throw everything into the same garbage bin. Maybe later in the processing of garbage is the recycles separated?
Today marked a few firsts: I had nutella (a chocolate spread) for the first time in my life, with toast, and it was amazingly good. Today was also the first day here that I didn’t take any pictures, since I didn’t really do that much out of my ordinary routine here. But I am still posting a picture of the beautiful sunset I saw outside of my apartment window. I don’t think I can ever get tired of the view :).