Allora oggi . . . it has been two weeks since my arrival in Firenze and I am so over all the tourists. I do not know how the Florentines deal with the relentless onslaught of tourists. RELENTLESS! Around the Duomo, the Galleria dell’ Accademia where Micheangelo’s David can be found, Ponte Vecchio, the Galleria degli Uffizi, the San Lorenzo church, it goes on and on. And there are several markets located throughout Firenze near all of these world-renowned sights, which only adds to the throngs. Firenze’s historic city center is listed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage sights
Amazingly enough, most of the Italians working in the shops, markets, and other tourist hot spots are cheery and lovely to deal with, most of them. So when on a rare occasion you find a sour grape in the bunch it is almost defensible given the sheer numbers of people and languages, cultures and tourists’ temperaments they encounter on any given day.
While shopping for shoes, I found one of those sour grapes the other day. As I reflect on my interaction with grumpy man one of the interesting things is he engaged me. So here’s what went down as I recall. I enter the small shoe shop and cranky man is sitting at a desk. I greet him with the usual formal Italian greeting “buon giorno” and skirted around him into the shop while I tell the commesso (that’s Italian for salesperson) that I am looking for shoes for my two sons. Of course I say all of this in my heavy American accented Italian. This is when grouchy dude interrupts my conversation with the perfectly pleasant commesso, and says to ME in ENGLISH no less “you wear a size nine”. Ahhh . . . no and I repeat in Italian the shoes are for my sons. Then grumpy dude gets quite indignant and says to me “I understand the shoes are for your sons”. Well, clearly you don’t because you just asked me if I wear a size nine. (That is what I said in my head.) The rest of what transpired is a bit fuzzy but the end result is I told grouchy pants I would buy shoes at a shop that spoke Italian with me. And that is exactly what I did because in Firenze, shoe shops are a dime a dozen.