Florence attracts Americans like a light attracts moths. Something about the intact miniature roads, marble-clad basilicas and brimming museums appeals to our western mentality. The glowing alleyways and hillside villas have the idealized aura of a Thomas Kinkade painting–almost too perfect to be true.
I returned to Florence with my family and noted the refinement of the place in contrast to the more tumultuous city of Rome. I will admit that the place has charm and the collections of Renaissance work are unsurpassed. The monuments that remain attest to the ambition, craftsmanship and wealth of a people inspired by the past and anxious to leave a mark on the future. (pictured: Brunelleschi’s famous dome and sculpture in the Boboli gardens)
At night, I explored the bar scene and watched a modern Florentine ritual: American girls getting drunk and Italian guys trying their best to get lucky. I ended up talking to a couple Italians, Leonardo and Claudio, and joked with them about the absurdity of their late-night activity. I listened as girls spoke to them in broken Italian–not realizing that they both spoke perfect English (and could understand everything the girls said to one other). At some point, the girls mistook me for an Italian, so I jokingly entered the conversation with simple Italian phrases and exaggerated hand gestures to compensate.
Against all odds, I convinced them that I was Italian and they divulged to us their belief that Italian guys are better looking than Americans, etc. etc. We spoke for awhile and as we said goodbye Claudio managed to snatch a kiss on the lips. The American girl turned toward her friends and giggled at the thought of kissing an Italian.
Prompted by Claudio, I turned back around and said to her in perfect English, “wow, you just kissed that guy on the lips!” At that moment, something registered in her slightly intoxicated mind and she blurted out, “You guys are all Americans! OMG” and literally chased us down the road.
I don’t necessarily condone the sleaziness of Leonardo or Claudio but I couldn’t help but laugh with them at the situation. Girls can be pushovers when it comes to cute accents and misplaced romanticism — they are generally not very happy when they are called out on it.