Over the past year I’ve known almost fifty different people coming from all over the world. This means I’ve embraced different cultures, traditions, languages and customs. But what they have in common is they’ve been longing about Florence, Tuscany, Chiantishire, Tuscan and Italian food and wine, for a long time and now, finally, after an exhausing trip, their dream came true.
I’ve been lucky enough, running a vacation house near Florence, to be part of the dream, as privileged witness.
During the months I’ve collected so many impressions about our beloved region.
Here you’ll find the five most striking ones, after the first days spent under the Tuscan sun.
1. Wild traffic. Florentine drivers are always in rush and the consequence is traffic is intense, caotic and it looks like a jungle. Moving the arms in a convulsive way, it’s all part of the package because they’re like an extension of the car, so we need to use them. A lot. I’ve heard stories about tourists lost among roundabouts and give-way signs. I can feel the terror in their eyes as they tell me their experience and live again those unforgettable moments. My advice is always the same. If you can’t compete, take the bus.
2. Phone calls. Aside from loud voice, they’re always surprised about the weird way we answer the phone: “Pronto”. I’ve been asked so many times what’s the point of clarifying every time that we’re.. “Ready”! The same doubt about the final, repeated “Ciao, ciao, ciao”, at the end of the phone call.
Well, actually, I’m not able to explain the syntax of an italian phone call.
The short version is we’re very much ready to hear what you have to say, and, a simple “Bye” is not enough to communicate how lucky we were to talk to you, at the phone. At least we don’t hang up the phone without saying ‘goodbye’, like in american movies! All I know is that we might be weird but, without a doubt, dedicated!
3. Coffee/Tea. An unbalanced war. Our stores are full of every possible kind of coffee: decaffeinated, Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, Excelsa and plenty of coffee machines. But there’s no chance to find a simple teapot with a proper filter. I know this sounds incredible but it’s true. Word of English perfect gentleman. All I can do is smile, and tell we don’t have this strong passion for tea. Just in case you haven’t noticed. So sorry.
4. Train ticket. Countryside is amazing: hills, fantastic views, vineyards, fruit gardens. But if you need to take the train to move from a little village to another, things might be a little bit more complicated. Small stations have poor turnout so, when I have to explain that the ticket office is open just for few hours in the morning and the best thing to do is to buy tickets at the bar near the station , their face tell everything I already know. Why would I have to buy tickets at the pastry shop? The keyword for the stay is ‘cappuccino & ticket’. Don’t ask.
5. Tuscan landscapes. Looking a tourist’s eyes the exact second he or she finally arrives in Tuscany, is almost a mystic moment. They drop the bags, lift the head up and a sudden flash illuminate their face. Eyes and mouth wide open. Literally. We’re used to admire our Tuscan landscapes almost everyday, and whenever we want but, for a tourist, coming from the other side of the world, a simple country run or a olive field can be as poetic as a Divina Commedia line. This is my favorite moment.
Beyond bizarre things and different customs, all the people I’ve met are overwhelmed by the beauty of our country, and the uniqueness of our region. It’s somehow istructive because it refreshes our mind about how lucky we are, living our life surrounded by the magic and the elegance of Florence.
Too bad for those who live in Florence but unfortunately, are not sensitive enough to enjoy every little single part of this incredible blessing.