When I decided to study abroad in Florence, everyone told me how incredible it was going to be and what an exciting and eye-opening experience I was going to have. Every person I talked to told me that I was going to have the time of my life. While I am most definitely loving every minute I spend here in Italy, the irony of it all is that time itself is something has stuck out to me the most.
The concept of time in Italy is very different from that of the United States. In America, people are usually in a rush to get somewhere or to get things done. A person is considered unproductive if they do not cross at least one thing off of their endless “to-do” list. Americans think that they know everything about time – it is fleeting, it is “of the essence.” They believe that the ticking hands on their wrist will point them in the right direction: happiness. However, Italians seem to know exactly where to find it. In America, time flies by before you can even reach out your hand to touch it. Italians, however, are always able to grasp it. They know how to take their time. In big cities in the United States, sidewalks are crowded with people hustling from Point A to Point B, talking or texting on their phones, and shoving past.
In Florence, I’ve noticed that the pace is slower – and it’s rarely a result of someone staring at their smartphone. There is so much to look at, from the colorful markets, to the extravagant architecture of buildings such as the Duomo. Italians, particularly Florentines, are aware of the beautiful place they live in and they take the time to enjoy it. Dozens of shops in Florence close in the middle of the afternoon so the owners can go home and enjoy a midday meal with their families. This is certainly not the case in America, where most stores are open late and some never close. While Italians spend hours conversing with their loved ones over multiple-course, homecooked meals, Americans rarely sit down at the table together. Living in Italy has taught me to slow down and enjoy my surroundings. Studying abroad is a once-in-alifetime opportunity that is already going by faster than I know it. While I’m here, I am just going to do as the Florentines do: savor my time the way I should savor my wine.
Student at Gonzaga in Florence University