Without a doubt, one of my favorite parts of living in Florence has been adapting to Italian culture and growing from it. Since I reside about 30 minutes by foot from center city, I get to experience a whole separate Florence than what most tourists are used to. I am so appreciative of this opportunity and am taking full advantage of it!
Just a couple weeks ago, a few of my roommates and I were wondering across the beautiful city and stumbled across a small sandwich shop by the Arno River called “Vinarno.” Boy, did we luck out!
Not only did we have the most incredible sandwiches of our lives, but we met the owner of the shop who sat down with us at the table and spent nearly half an hour talking with us and sharing his experiences living in Tuscany and asking about our time so far. It was truly a special experience, as our new friend, Francesco seemed to genuinely want to know more about us and had a great time learning about American culture, as we did with him.
Well, as you may expect, Vinarno has become a staple in our weekly routines. I make sure to stop in a few times per week, even if just saying hi to Francesco! It is one of the most enjoyable parts of this experience to form bonds with locals and learn more about people who are so different, yet so similar.
This encounter has inspired me to make more of an effort to meet locals and as a result I’ve been enjoying my time here even more. Just the other day my friend and I went to our local park with a basketball and shot some hoops with some local high schoolers. We communicated through the limited Italian vocabulary I had, the limited English vocabulary they had, and of course the mutual love of the sport! It was a ton of fun playing with the kids (even if they did cross me up and “ankle-break” me).
I am going to continue to live up Florence as much as I can and appreciate every day I have left. I can’t wait to meet more Florentines and grow even more as a person.