illux by Leo Cardini
As editor of The Florentine, I often think of myself as a resident cupid of the city. Every time our editorial staff publishes a heart-warming photo of the Duomo or a golden sunset shot of the Arno, we spread a little love and shoot a few of those cuore-centred arrows into the digital or chartaceous ether. But, during the recent bad weather, I popped out of the office to grab a pair of tights and spent an inordinate amount of time having my umbrella jostled by disorientated tourists and locals hell-bent on getting from A to B in a hurry. I admit it, for an hour I found myself in the unusual position of hating Florence.
‘Do you hate Florence?’ This was the question we posed on The Florentine’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Our thanks to everyone who took the time to participate in what turned out to be a heated debate.
Barry: I only hate that I can’t visit Florence every six months. Four of us were in Florence in October and were fined 200 euro by the ‘bus police’ for going 5 minutes over our time on a ticket—and I still love Florence.
Rene: 21st-century Italy has much more to do with the globalized connected world we all live in and much less to that Renaissance Disneyland that much of it has become. There is a great difference between being a visitor and a resident…
Vitor: Not bike friendly (specially outside downtown), two bikes stolen in one month, cutting of lines, lack of Internet infrastructure, low access to non-Italian food (this will only hit you after couple of months), impossible to eat outside without inhaling cigarette smoke and walk without stepping on cigarette butts, selfie sticks. I wouldn’t say I hate Florence, but it’s certainly far from the idyllic dream in most tourists’ imaginations.
Francesca: I will never hate Florence, only the tons of tourists that visit the city but don’t appreciate it at all…Only good at taking pics, not even knowing what they are looking at.
Pamela: I don’t hate Florence. But I don’t care for it for a few reasons: too many tourists and the negatives that come with that (like pickpockets in abundance, long lines, crowds), noise, and rude locals sometimes; but the thing that bugs me the most is the sidewalks. Very few adequate sidewalks.
Amy: I think this comes down to a question of quality of life and what that means to you. My experience of Florence has been one of chaotic traffic (and you can only blame tourism so much; in the off season, when it’s cold, the bus/scooter/car situation is abominable), filthy streets, smog and noise pollution, and, save a few random, poorly-kept public ‘gardens’, not a tree in sight. So while hate is likely too strong a word, I would say I dread Florence…
Nina: When I visited Firenze for the very first time, as a 20-something student, I hated it. Not for the richness of its treasures, but from the unfriendliness of its people as well as for the way its treasures were presented…
Linda C: Love Florence in October; love it less in July.
Linda B: I love Florence but hate that there seem to be fewer Florentines and more expats living there every time I visit…
Jacqueline: My biggest disappointment with living in Florence in particular is the fact that more attention is paid to what tourists need/want and too little attention is paid to the quality of life for the residents. Do I like the current conditions in Italy in general and Florence in particular? No. Do I still find Florence to be a fascinating place to live? Absolutely!
Carmen: I hate the mosquitoes.
Manisha: I hate the continuous, over-idealized praising of Florence as the only perfect jewel of the whole planet.
Isabel: I think to love Florence and feel like you are a part of it one must have family or a relationship to help meet people and feel accepted.
Eleonora: The first sign of hate is when you don’t care any more about popping into people’s pictures by accident.
Alexandra: I am rather famous for my #ihateataf hashtag, where I regularly lament the abjectly horrible bus service in this city.
Michelle: Florence isn’t the most friendly city, but my experience has shown that, like in real long-lasting friendships, it may take time to get through that apparently gruff surface, to reveal the shining diamond in the rough, the unique Florentine irony and loyalty. It took me one year to get my uberflorentine bike dealer to say ‘ciao,’ but now he trusts me and we have a good laugh whenever I pass by his shop with a flat tire (maledetti sampietrini!) or just to say hi.