Where have all the Italians gone?

I ask myself this question as I wander the streets of Florence, hearing nothing but the plain sound of North American accents. Seriously, it’s been about 3 days here now and 90% of the voices on the street I hear are English; more precisely American.

As a Canadian, it is my patriotic duty to be able to distinguish the difference between a Canadian and American accent within a matter of seconds. My accent radar is never wrong.

So I ask again; what is with all the Americans in Florence, and where are all the Italians hiding?

London to Florence

I left London a couple of days ago with Florence as my destination. I am here visiting my Mom, her husband (who is American), and his daughter (also American) who lives in a house with 7 other American girls.. see where this is going?

As I sat on the plane I could hear American accents. I sat beside two lovely women from London who were kind enough to let me hop a ride in their cab from the airport into the city, if you two are reading this; thanks again! We saw the craziest sunset from the window of the plane.


Everyone else around us were Americans heading to Florence. I saw American passports in most hands as we waited in the line for customs. Perhaps there is a winter seat sale going on?

Americans studying abroad in Florence

Florence seems to be a hot spot for Americans studying abroad. Particularly girls. Don’t quote me on the numbers, but in my stepsister]s program alone, there is something like 70 people. Only 10 of whom are guys.

Take note gentlemen; if you are a male American student looking to study a broad (or two), then Florence should be the top of the list. The ratio will be in your favour.

Americans in Florence

Americans, and other international students studying abroad in Florence, could be one of the reasons that the Italians are in hiding. Perhaps they don’t want to deal with the influx of young foreigners out drinking and wandering the streets at all hours of the morning?

Have they lost the downtown core of their beloved city to the 20 – 22 age group that seems to dominate it?

Interacting with locals

So far my only interaction with locals have been the ones that serve my food and the dude that hooked up my sim card. This is not FTF style at all. If you have read other articles of mine, such as the time I spent hanging out with locals in Iraq,  you would know I am all about interacting with the locals.

Americans in Florence

When I was living in Kreuzberg for a week, it was all about the locals. Here in Florence they seem to be hiding.

I need to get out of the city centre. Maybe it’s because I am just wandering around the main tourist areas that I see nothing but…wait for it…tourists!

Seems obvious in a way; I need to expand my Florence horizons.

The impact of tourists on a city

Have we, the tourists, scared the locals away? Are they sick of us invading their city, and have just fled to further and safer grounds?

It seems like a shame. Downtown Florence is magnificent. This is my first time in Italy, and it is like nothing I have ever seen. The beauty of Florence could also be its curse.

Americans in Florence

Americans and the like flock to Florence to marvel at its wonders. It’s no surprise, I have come to do the same thing. But have we, in fact, taken over their wonderful old city?

Sure we bring money. Without tourism who knows where the city would be. It’s a tough debate that goes beyond the scope of this simple rant of an article.

I condem them, but I am one of them

I have never been one for the typical “touristy” sights of a city. When you travel long-term sometimes it’s just nice to be somewhere new and relax. Perhaps get out of the city, and away from the tourists like when a friend and I rented a car and went exploring in rural Albania.

Here in Florence, I am the typical tourist. And although I usually don’t condone this type of behaviour, I have to say I am having a great time being on a family vacation of sorts and just being a tourist for once without much worry.


I am staying in a nice apartment with my mom and step dad. A far cry from the usual places I tend to sleep, like living in a treehouse for a week in Turkey.

We are going out to fantastic meals that I could never afford on my own. Last night I ate duck liver on toast, and more pasta and meat than any man should eat. I am used to the likes of Iraqi street food.

Americans in Florence

We have walked around taking in the sites like a tourist should. If you have to be a tourist, this certainly is the place. I see why it has the popularity it does.

I have 2 more nights here then I am off to live on the beach. What beach you ask? Subscribe to my newsletter and find out!

P.S took all these photos with my new Sony Xperia Z3.. I’m throwing my i-phone into the ocean when I get to the beach.

6 Responses

  1. Jo Hudek

    Hi Alex
    Great that you’re having a good time seeing your family and really good to have met you on the journey – the photo from the plane came out great!

    We’re having a lovely time in Florence, quite a few Americans, but not all of them loud! There are lots of visitors, but as you say, you can understand why. It is a really cosmopolitan place but we have come across Italians and English who are part of the fabric of the city and who have interesting stories to tell.

    If you like film, Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth has a very entertaining vignette set in Piazza de Michaelangelo.

    Have a great trip and it was a real pleasure to spend a journey with you.

    Jo and Jen

    • Alex

      It was great to meet you guys as well! Im happy to hear you are having a great time. The food here is fantastic isn’t it! I will have to download that film and have a look. Have a great rest of your trip 🙂

  2. Tiana in Tuscany

    Welcome to Florence! You mean, you “don’t condone” this behavior? As for American students, yes there are tons but only in certain areas. I’ve been here 2 and a half years and have seen students extremely seldomly. I avoid places where they go not only because I don’t want to be around students but most importantly I’m not a student, so that wouldn’t make any sense. There are pockets in the city where they flock to, but why would a tourist go to a pub in Florence? You need to go to a wine bar like Il Santino or Volpe e l’Uva! I think you need to go to San’Ambrogio area and San Frediano. Santa Croce is studentsville and the duomo has tourists from all over the world, not just Americans. I live in a cool area northeast of downtown and we have great bars and restaurants where I am always the only American. Enjoy your touristdom with the fam, it’s fun to play tourist even when you are one 😉
    Tiana in Tuscany recently posted…Help Save a 15th Century Chapel in Florence, #CrazyforPazzi Kickstarter CampaignMy Profile

    • Alex

      Hi Tiana

      Thanks for the suggestions, it’s actually my last day here so may not have time to see much else. This trip was more about family then anything and just a casual observation about the bit that I saw. I am sure there are many great places to explore when you get away from the centre and next time I am in town I’ll hit you up for some suggestions 🙂

      Thanks for reading

      • Tiana in Tuscany

        I’m from Miami and every tourist who goes to Miami mainly goes to South Beach…more precisely they go to Ocean Drive and I cringe. That is 10% of the city of Miami, but I understand that it’s the most appealing to tourists. I think the thing is to remember locals don’t go where tourists go because the quality of food is usually less, prices are higher, and the authenticity is usually more revved up. Anyway…enjoy your last day!