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An American in Italy, specifically Milan

An American in Italy | A Travelogue

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Recently, I had the opportunity to spend five days in Italy. I visited Florence, Cinque Terre, and Milan, immersing myself in the culture and cuisine of this enchanting country. In this article, I will share my observations of Italian culture and politics with heavy comparisons to the United States, from the perspective of an American in Italy.

Italy appears distinctly European, not only because of its architectural heritage but also due to its predominantly White demographics, especially from an American perspective. However, as I discussed with our editor Nicholas Jeelvy, identity in Europe differs significantly from that in America. In Europe, languages and nationalities play crucial roles. While “White” is becoming a more prominent distinction in Europe due to mass migration from Arab countries and others, European nationalists seeking to leave the EU often do so to preserve their unique national identities—be it French, German, Croatian, English, etc.

From an American standpoint, a White, English-speaking Canadian might seem (and clearly is) more “American” than a non-English-speaking Mexican. However, legally, the Mexican born in U.S. territory would be considered American, while the Canadian born within Canadian provinces would not. Increasingly, with recent Muslim migration, Europeans seem to recognize a more shared identity, but tensions still exist, as seen in Belgium, where some Belgians feel that French enclaves erode their national identity.

I acknowledge that my perspective is speculative, given that I do not live in Europe. Now, let’s delve into a comparative review of Italy and the United States, focusing on Florence, Cinque Terre, and Milan.

Florence:

After arriving in Milan (Malpensa Airport) and adjusting to the six-hour time difference from EST, we rented a car and drove three hours south to Florence. Florence is charming and unlike anything in America. The streets are narrower, and the buildings and art exude a historical aura. We stayed at the Four Seasons, a luxurious hotel, but had to downscale for the remainder of the trip for budget reasons.

We toured the city, including a visit to a museum housing the famous statue of David. Florence’s unique character is hard to describe; it’s incomparable to any American city. Boston, for example, is the most classical-looking city in the U.S., but it is a modern flash in the pan compared to Florence. Americans would likely find Florence adorable. English is widely spoken, alongside Italian and some French. Tourism peaks around Memorial Day.

On the second day, I explored the city independently, enjoying the feeling of being lost in such a picturesque place. The food was incredible, though I must say, Italian pizza doesn’t compare to that in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, California, Florida, or Illinois. However, the pasta dishes are superior to American-style pasta. Service, outside the Four Seasons, was less attentive compared to the U.S; in fact, at one of the restaurants in Florence, a fellow traveler asked the server which of two dishes he recommended. The server humorously replied, “Surprise,” and walked away, leaving us all amused. This attitude was common in several places we visited.

If you ever go to Florence, be really careful of bikers and drivers. The roads are really small, and bikers and drivers in Italy do not seem to give a f***. Walking around with your headphones blasting ‘Black Flag’ is risky—you can’t really relax because it’s very easy to get wiped out and seriously injured, or worse, by a biker. They are not nice to pedestrians. I thought bikers were out of control in NYC, and to be fair, they kind of are. But this is a whole new level in Florence.

It’s also pretty funny watching older people ride around on bikes—you never see that in America. In two of the three places I visited in Italy, if you take a car to work, there’s no real way to get past other cars because the roads are just too damn small. In some areas to get to work biking may be a requirement, I would imagine.

Italy’s current demographics aren’t too bad, but it’s coming from an American perspective, where immigration policies have been problematic for decades. Still, Italy has some concerning trends. In some areas of Florence, you’ll see young Arabs selling goods in tents, and they tend to be younger than the average Italian. In Florence, I witnessed a pro-Palestine protest, with graffiti and remnants of various protests scattered around. I find criticism of Israel less concerning than other minority actions in White countries, but it does reveal a strong racial consciousness among these alien browns. Interestingly, (and very pleasing) I barely encountered any blacks during my travels in Italy. It was a refreshing change from the constant exposure to blacks in America.

Cinque Terre:

Next came Cinque Terre, which in English translates to “five towns.” There’s a train that connects the five towns, and it’s pretty quick and efficient. Despite having a train station, however, Cinque Terre doesn’t have a city vibe. It’s a fisherman’s town on the water, and it’s very picturesque. As an American, it’s hard to describe because there’s nothing quite like it in the US. The best way I can put it is, if this place were in America, it would be the prettiest sardine town you’ve ever seen, by about twentyfold.

Since it’s by the water and boating and fishing fuel much of the local economy, most of the restaurants—probably about 85%—are seafood places. I had some delicious fried calamari and more pasta. There were a lot of stray cats around, but they were friendly because it seems like Italians and tourists feed them a lot. Being a cat person, I enjoyed this. It seems like Mediterranean places have a lot of stray cats for some reason.

Cinque Terre feels distinctly Italian. Many locals didn’t know any English, though there were English-speaking and French tourists around. The demographics were (pleasingly) almost exclusively White, unlike Florence, where you have certain enclaves of Arabs. Of course the demographics of Florence are still much Whiter than many American cities today. Everyone there was White and either spoke English, French, or mainly Italian. Italians seem pretty prideful about their language. I’ve heard that in certain places, people speak English but prefer not to, so if you speak English to them, they might act like they don’t understand, even if they do.

One hotel employee in Cinque Terre seemed to understand me perfectly, despite not knowing any English. This brings me to my familiarity with the Italian language, which is minimal. Although I have Italian heritage, I consider myself more of an Italian-American, like Columbus or Amerigo Vespucci. I take pride in being Italian, but living in America, I am White.

Interestingly, my secondary language is French. While I’m not fluent, I can get by in French-speaking areas, like Montreal, parts of Belgium, or France. I can talk to hotel clerks, ask for directions, and order food from a French menu. This is how I recognized French speakers around me and even had a small conversation in French with someone in Italy.

I don’t know much about the Italian language, but it seems like Italians are quite proud of it. Humorously, someone I was traveling with kept saying “Prego” every time a hotel worker did something for him, thinking it meant “thank you.” It actually means “you’re welcome,” and his repeated mistake was pretty funny.

Milan:

Then came Milan. Wow, finally something that feels pretty relatable. If you’re an American and you go to Milan, there are two cities it will probably remind you of: New York City and Washington DC. Like DC, Milan has many walkable areas where cars aren’t allowed, and there are fountains and plazas with similar tiles. Even the infrastructure and the way buildings are constructed made me think, “This looks just like Washington DC.” As an East Coast American who’s visited cities on the East Coast countless times, I also found that Milan reminded me a lot of New York City.

One reason for this is the driving restrictions in Milan. Just like the congestion pricing in New York City, Milan requires drivers to pay for a pass to use their cars in certain areas. Additionally, the museums in Milan felt similar to those in New York City, particularly the history exhibits. It’s a bit hard to explain, but there’s a familiar vibe.

The plazas in Milan, with live music and the variety of activities, also felt akin to those in New York. The convenience stores had a similar look and feel, and many of the roads were quite wide, much like those in a big American city, suggesting that a lot of the roadwork is relatively recent.

General Observations About Italian Culture And Politics:

Italy and the United States share some problems, but they are undoubtedly different nations. Policing is certainly one of these. Italy’s low crime rate can be attributed to its lack of a significant black population. But the tactics of policing in Italy differ from the US, where officers are often armed and carry out tasks similar to military personnel, as observed in cities like Milan and Florence. In American cities with large black populations, such as Baltimore, both police and military presence is common but its still something you don’t see too much in many cities. This contradicts the claims made by some liberals and libertarians that European countries have fewer armed police, as it appears that these nations have no qualms about deploying military forces in certain urban areas. In Italy, I observed military personnel performing duties such as guarding key locations and maintaining a visible presence to ensure public safety all over Florence and Milan.

Unfortunately I encountered a lot anti-fascist propaganda in Milan, including posters to recruit individuals for Antifa. During my time in Italy, I decided to use Tinder to see what the local dating scene was like. Contrary to the claims made by the “manosphere,” Italian girls seemed to have significantly higher standards than their American counterparts. In the US, I could easily exchange smiles with a random girl on the street, but in Italy, the girls barely acknowledged my presence. The manosphere’s assertion that American women are the “Great Satan” and that one should seek partners abroad is misguided. In my mind, American women are more approachable than Italian women, both online and in public. It’s disheartening to see so much anti-fascist propaganda, like the term Communist, Fascist is such a broad term, really anti-fascists are against any kind of order, are against borders, gender roles, enforcing laws etc, which really tells that like the U.S, where we too have a lot of these scum, the people are really infected with this self hatred in Italy for their history, culture, and race.

Humorously, so many Italian statues are of naked people. Countries in the Anglosphere would never allow this, and honestly, I’m not a fan either. My reasoning? I find it very distracting from who the person is supposed to be or represent. I mean, I can’t imagine a statue of Lincoln naked. I don’t want to see Woodrow Wilson’s penis or Betsy Ross’s tits. Instead of reflecting on their achievements or beliefs, I’d be stuck thinking, “Why the heck are they naked?” That was exactly my thought process when I saw a naked statue of some mid-millennium Italian.

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