This year I covered stereotypes a lot in my classroom. Things that we studied often carried with it the theme of stereotypes. I hate stereotypes. Especially in relation to the south and race. Unfortunately, because I am human and don’t often work to better my faults, I still do it myself. In particular when it comes to Italians. 🙂 I mean, they sure hit me hard for being American, so maybe the feeling is mutual.
Why do I mention stereotypes? Because I definitely came into the country expecting my stereotypical thoughts of Italians. And they definitely did not disappoint.
I had a pretty smooth sailing trip over here, until my flight from Munich to Florence. It is important to note here that I never sleep during my transatlantic travels, because in my own weird mind I think it helps to reset my body clock. That being said, by the time I got on the flight to Florence I had been awake for a really long time. The flight was all fine and dandy until we reached Florence.
I started to notice that we were flying in circles. It was also about the time that the flight should be ending. After a few minutes of circles the pilot came on to say that we were unable to land in Florence due to a strong tail wind. He said we would circle for a while to see if the wind would let up. We continued to circle. Later he came back on to say it wasn’t looking good but we would wait it out a little longer. The Germans that were surrounding me were beginning to shuffle around. Again the pilot comes back on and this time says perhaps we will just go on to Bologna instead. A few minutes later the plane stopped circling…. we were headed to Bologna.
Now, Charlie and the family were excitedly awaiting me in Florence. I have no Italian cell phone to contact them once I land in Bologna, nor do they have a way to contact me. The flight crew informed us that the airline would transport us back to Florence once we arrived in Bologna. I figured I would just grab a train in Bologna to Arezzo, instead of having to travel all the way back to Florence and then all the way back to Arezzo. I was trying to think like Charlie would since I had no way of contacting them.
My plan did not happen. The airline shuffled not only my plane, but all 7 or 8 flights that had been redirected to Bologna, onto buses to head back to Florence. So I collect all of my “traveling across the world for two months” luggage and guitar and load up onto the bus….full of Europeans. Including the little old lady that sat next to me, I’m pretty sure she was Greek, who slept on my shoulder for the whole trip. Don’t worry, I definitely got video footage of it.
We finally arrive in Florence and Charlie is no where to be found. I buy some wifi minutes at the airport and find out that Charlie and the family had to return to Arezzo because of an appointment. At that point, I locate the bus that will take me to the train station in Florence so that I can take a train to Arezzo. I do all of this while lugging two suitcases, a guitar, and a book sack across the city and on and off of buses and trains. Finally, 26 hours after my trip overseas began, my train pulls in to Arezzo. Poor Charlie just had to hang out at the train station hoping I would eventually get off of one of the trains coming from Florence.
I tell you that long story to say…… not much has changed here in Italy. (Italians do not always operate in a conventional way)
Or have things changed?
Arezzo is a city up in the Tuscany region, which is north of Rome. Naples is a couple hours south of Rome. The two are worlds apart.
Here in Arezzo, people follow rules. They use cross walks. The streets are clean. Everything is quiet. The stores are organized. I ran on a bike/running path this morning. This morning I walked out of the house with wet hair and not one person said a thing to me. What is this place?
Even the food is drastically different. The eat more risotto than pasta. (I think) The pizza (so I hear) is a disgrace. The meat is a bigger deal here than the slow cooked sugo that we ate and talked about daily in Naples. AND there is a crepe shop. Yep, crepes.
After just one day in Arezzo, I have made several observations. Naples is a city of tradition and history. Naples always felt stuck in a different century to me. I think they like it that way. Most days, that drove me nuts. I couldn’t handle having to live my life a certain way because the 70 year old lady that lived next door to me told me to. But I saw that lady almost everyday. That translates into quality face time. Even though Naples was a city of 5 million people, you saw the same people everyday. Those same people were involved in your life, told you their opinion on everything, and talked to you every day. When it comes to ministry and having to build relationships, that served us all well.
That doesn’t exist in the same way here in Arezzo. People almost seem more to themselves. That adds something new to thinking through what ministry will look like in a city like this. Though most of what I am doing this summer will not be in Arezzo.
I have missed my longggggg conversations with Charlie about ministry and connections and people in Italy. I have missed my continuous conversations with Shannon about anything and everything. Even just my one day here has been restoring. The city is a new challenge. What does ministry look like here? I’m excited to get to be a part of thinking through life in the future in Arezzo.
But now we have to walk the kids to tutoring…….