Sunday, June 14, 2015

Stephanie Arrives in Firenze

by Stephanie Jentgen
Who would think there would be more shuttles at Italian airports than planes? Yet as I landed in Rome, and later Florence, dozens of shuttle busses zipped around the airport. Rather than park next to the terminal, the aircraft braked a fair distance from the gates, forcing jet-lagged passengers to haul their luggage onto a bus and embark on yet another, albeit shorter, journey. Thankfully, the shuttles operated efficiently. I realized this would be the first of many cultural differences I would encounter.

As I plodded through the Florence airport, snippets from Rick Steves’ travel tips flashed through my mind: Only take official taxis, Tourist Information centers can answer questions, Italians like to be helpful. I just wanted to hire a cab, check in to my hotel, and take a cool shower. I stepped outside to wait in line for a taxi and looked at the scenes around me.

I expected to see primarily dark-haired, dark-eyed men and women. Yet the large number of light-haired, light-eyed Italians surprised me. Obviously, my preconceived notions of what a true Italian looked like needed to be thrown aside.