One of my favorite past times is people watching. Any and all free time in Manhattan is spent in Union Square, people watching and dog watching. So once settled in Italy, I started wandering around my new neighborhood. Very quickly I was enamored with this new world. My New York neighborhood consists of students and young families, and in this new neighborhood there is a similar feel, but one of my favorite things to observe are strolling grandmas walking around, arm in arm, gossiping about the day’s activities.
I live very close to the Duomo, and as I move towards the cathedral the people milling around definitely changes. This is a very “tourist heavy” area. New to this extraordinary city, these tourists frantically snap their photos or stand stupefied by the enormous beauty of this place. The Duomo never fails to amaze and I always have to take a moment to appreciate it whenever I walk by. Since we are very centrally located, we get a mix of tourists and locals. The amount of languages I hear on a daily basis is always amazing. People truly come from all around the world to witness the amazing collection of Renaissance art that Florence houses.
I am very lucky to be one of the “newbies” that does not vacate the city and move to the next attraction. I live in this neighborhood so I can explore and watch for months to come. I feel fortunate to be able to stay and really appreciate all the works of art that people come from so far to see. I get to go to these landmarks and museums as part of my classes. In my time spent around the Duomo, I have crashed multiple selfies and dozens of holiday cards. I really like to see what people are stopping to appreciate. Some go straight for the classic, front of the Duomo post card picture, while others are focusing on the smaller details, like the stonework on the sidewalls or the ornate details of the doors.
Being an American here, I have had a very warm welcome. As I slowly pick up on Italian, I have gotten some basic shopping and ordering done, and the Italians are always very understanding and helpful. They let me try my best and if it doesn’t go well, they always switch to English. We have a café we frequent where all the servers speak multiple languages so they can communicate with any customer. I love observing people in this restaurant because you can see the cultural differences when people are ordering or asking for the check. Some snap or yell from across the room, while others patiently wait for the waitress to come by. This city is a major intersection for multiple cultures, whether they are tourists or they call Florence home.