4 Things You Didn’t Know About Italy

Abigail Pang is a student at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Florence, Italy.

I’ve only been in Florence, Italy for a week and a half, yet I’m finding myself acclimating to the way of life more quickly than I could have imagined. Maybe I am meant to be in Italy for the rest of my existence because I identify with the lifestyle here, but I think it is because I have made an effort to get to know the history of this city and country. Without further ado, here are some things you probably didn’t know about Italy that might just help you acclimate should you decide to visit this beautiful country:

  1. Florence is the English name for the city of Firenze.

Firenze, the current name of the city of Florence, was established as a Roman camp, or settlement, for veteran soldiers back in the BC times. Then, it was called Florentia, and was built in the castrum style, or military camp based on a grid. It was known as the city of flowers due to the rich land of Tuscany, of which Florence is currently the capital, and dubbed Fiorenza. Fior referring to flowers.

2. Many sites are protected by UNESCO.

This may seem silly to mention, as you’ve probably noticed the many old, non-modern buildings throughout Italy, but many places are renovated to match the original style. In fact, a local told me that even to paint a door, one must ask for permission in order to preserve the history. In Florence, many streets are closed off to automobile traffic, are one-way, and are made of bricks from hundreds of years ago. The churches and historical sites are revered, so UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) keeps them protected. In fact, I live in an Renaissance apartment! No worries though, because it has been updated with running water and heaters. Showers are possible.

3. Naptime is a real thing. 

You may think siesta is reserved for Kindergarteners and Spaniards, but indeed, it exists in Italy, too! The time schedule in Italy is different than what I am used to, but I love naps, so I am down with the strange break in the day. Businesses often close during the early afternoon to let their employees go home, eat, and take a little rest before coming back to work. Italians are infamous for their late, or what Americans deem late, lengthy dinners, but since they had their naps, they can stay up later! I like the calm lull in the afternoon to relax and snooze. President Obama, let’s hop on this, yeah?

4. Italians love teaching you about their culture.

I don’t know if this is true for every single person in the country, but each Italian I have encountered is eager to share pieces of advice and assist in learning the language. The people are welcoming and friendly if you truly make an effort to learn and acclimate yourself. If I don’t know how to say a word in Italian, someone will offer it up for help. If you ask about the history behind a site or street, or anything, people are happy to talk about their home.

This experience is unique, beautiful, and life-changing. Make the most of it by abandoning your hometown norms and begin adopting your city’s or country’s. Wherever you are, people love to see you getting to know them and taking a walk in their shoes.

Although cloudy out, the Arno River (only a 10 minute walk from my apartment) is still beautiful.
Although cloudy out, the Arno River (only a 10 minute walk from my apartment) is still beautiful.

The world awaits…discover it.

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