Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Girlfriends in Florence

Most people I've met here have said that it is very difficult for a foreigner woman to make friends with Florentine women. They are rumored to be very "closed" and unaccepting of newcomers. It probably is especially true for a city like Florence, where students and tourists come and go all the time. Why should someone invest the time in a friendship if they think you might be gone tomorrow? This is what I've heard, but not necessarily what I think. I think it's not really true, and that if I had a better command of the language that it would come more naturally to me. I am still having a hard time with the language, and I will write a post on this subject soon.

The two women friends that I have are Lucia and Lia. These are precious relationships, different different than what I am used to in the U.S. Making women friends is a real challenge, and it is hard to be profound because you really cannot relate to each others' lives as intimately.

Lucia was my private language instructor last year and we developed a personal relationship because we spent many hours together speaking Italian, and so she came to know me very personally. Yesterday Lucia and I got together for lunch and caught up with each other. Lucia was born and has lived here in Florence all her life, except for the time that she has spent teaching in Georgetown University and Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. She is fascinating and an outstanding author of many books on the subject of Italian politics. I would like to get to know her even more.

And the other Florentine woman that I've made friends with is Lia. Lia works for the bike store that sponsors my team and she has been very accepting and supportive of me since I first came to Florence. She recruited me to the team and made many introductions. I owe alot to her kindness. Today she took me shopping all over Florence, to try to find a Christening gown for the grandaughter of one of my friends in California. I didn't know where to go shopping for an item like this, and when she offered to help me, I thought this would be a great way to spend an afternoon together with a local girlfriend. It was a fun day, but a little frustrating, because when we entered the shops, Lia would start speaking so fast that I couldn't understand a word she said. When Florentines speak between themselves, they speak very fast and they use expressions that are uniquely Florentine and not necessarily Italian. We did find a few beautiful gowns, but they turned out to be beyond my girlfriend's budget. It was a fun day with Lia.

Over the past month, I have made 2 more new Italian female friends. One of them, Simona, I met while I was clothes shopping at Rinascente. She has been calling me to set up a time to get together and I've been so busy that I haven't been able to follow up on it. The other, Sla, I met at a GranFondo. We drove to the coast together and rode the Giro della Maremma two days ago. She is a lovely person and I hope we can keep our friendship going. She is not really a cyclist, but she seems to be a little more independent than the typical Italian women that I've met in Florence.