Random notes from Italy

One of the interesting transportation facets of Florence is that you don’t hail cabs, but you do hail buses. For cabs, you typically either telephone for a cab or go to a taxi stand. You don’t really hail a bus, since you can’t just stop one in the street, but if you see your bus approaching the bus stop, you hold out your hand to indicate that you want to board. Otherwise, unless someone is getting off at that stop, the bus might sail right by you, as has happened to me!

I was on the sidewalk, separated from the pit only by one of the metal barriers.

I was on the sidewalk, separated from the pit only by one of the metal barriers.

Construction sites are less blocked off; for example, a whole block isn’t closed because there’s work being done on twenty feet of road or sidewalk. I don’t know if it’s because this is a less litigious society or because there’s an assumption of basic common sense (might be some natural selection going on there!).

On a related note, it amazes me, after living in a state that requires police personnel at road construction sites, that roadwork sites here use temporary stoplights to alternate traffic through the one lane open. There are occasionally people with stop and go signs instead of the stoplights, but never members of the constabulary.

Athletic goods stores smell the same as those in the USA. And at Christmas, I noticed that stores like Ikea play holiday music ad nauseam —didn’t even have to feel homesick!

2015oct11_florence_ip_0001I got hooked my first summer here on Aperol Spritzes and discovered I could buy Prosecco in small bottles, which is handy since it goes flat quickly. However, it seems to me that Prosecco is under much more pressure in a small bottle than in a large one. Whenever I’m opening a bottle by myself, and despite the fact that I use a towel to contain the plastic cork, I’m always tempted to email my family to say that if it all goes horribly wrong, I love them!

Learning Italian has its ups and downs. Vowels don’t change their pronunciation nearly as much as in English but two of the most common verbs are irregular and there are at least seven ways to say into.

I’ve been told they’re being phased out, but many gas stations are pumps at the side of the road.  Also, gas flows much faster out of the pump—you can hear how fast.


Gas station in Fiesole.

One of my all-time favorite road sign combinations was seeing a sign for the speed limit increasing, followed within feet by an S curve sign!

What I notice more than anything, though, is the lengths to which people will go to communicate with me – from the woman at the phone store who patiently typed what she wanted to tell me into her phone’s translation app and then showed me the result to the people who will illustrate what they’re saying with whatever props are handy. It’s quite heartwarming.

Images © Melissa Corcoran.

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