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Locals I Love: Nicolas Pradier

This week’s local I love is someone quite near and dear to my heart, my other-half or as I like to now call him, my ‘franco fiorentino’ who has (through mild coercion) finally agreed to be one of my interviewee and I am thrilled. Mainly because I think it is more important to learn through a person like him, a perspective of life in Florence more ‘normal’ than even someone like me working in social media and blogging or as I like to call it ‘fantasyland’. Nico is a normal person who came to Italy because of work and shares his unique perspective on Florence and what it’s like to move abroad. I first met Nico 6 years ago when his Italian was worse than mine (I can never say that again) and  so many years later, he isn’t just ‘my friend Nico’ anymore :). Let’s get to know this French Italofile and read, in his own words what he has to say about life in the Renaissance disneyland.

Name: Nicolas Pradier

Nationality: French

Profession: Biomedical Engineer

Favorite drink: Margarita, Negroni

How long have you lived in Florence and where are you from originally?

I come from a small town called Castelnaudary, located in the South of France, near Toulouse. That’s where I grew up until the age of 16 years old, when I decided to study engineering in Toulouse and then Marseilles until 2006 which is the last year I was an actual resident in France.
I started living abroad since then: a few months in Norway, 2 years in Montreal and I ended up in Florence in August 2008. I’ve consequently spent more than 6 years now in Italy… it went by so fast that it doesn’t even seem real!

nicoNico reflecting in Dubai

What brought you to bella Firenze and why did you decide to stay?

After my studies in Montreal, Canada, I was very determined to continue living abroad and was looking for my first job anywhere but in France. I got very lucky when a French company contacted me for a job in its Italian site located in Florence. I got the job right after one interview in the headquarters in Lyon and, even though I made clear that I didn’t speak a word of Italian, they did not seem very worried about that and confirmed my hiring.

It was so unexpected and sudden that I was really excited and scared at the same time. I would never have thought to go live in Italy and, even if I had the occasion to travel to Italy in the past (Sicily, Naples, Venice), my knowledge of the country was still very close to the bad stereotypes about the Italians: hand-gestures, speaking too loudly and preferring to eat pasta in order to save money and show off those Armani suits! Trust me, I hate stereotypes now !

My first day of work was on August 4th 2008 and, even if the very beginning was hard (first job, new language, new people, new culture, no friends…), I fell in love with this city and its unique atmosphere… I love the way of life in Florence and this is definitely why I decided to stay.

nico7

 What are you up to in Florence? Work, daily life, passions?

I work for a French company located in Bagno a Ripoli, just outside Florence. I am a biomedical engineer and work in Research and Development of new in vitro diagnostic devices for hospitals and laboratories. In other words, I participate to the design of new devices for blood analysis.
In private, I live with my “Girl in Florence” Georgette (please notice the French name) and my dog Ginger, who are the two beloved females of my life. I participate in many of the blogger adventures of the former while I try to control myself in front of the destructive appetite of the latter. I love my life, it being well-balanced between scientific approach at work and craziness at home – craziness to which I’m now addicted.

If I had to pick only one passion, I would say traveling ! I am all about discovering new places and enjoying some good moments with my Florentine family. I had the chance to travel since I was 7 with my parents and it has become a drug!

I also play the piano, which is a sort of stress relief for me and I honestly wish I could play more. Unfortunately, this is the kind of hobby that can be very time-consuming and I can’t manage to put it in my top priorities.

What annoys you about Florence? Tell me the truth!

The everyday struggle to find a parking spot for my Fiat 500 car is what is the most annoying problem is for me in Florence. I live in the historical center and, even if I can drive almost everywhere since I am a resident there, it is still necessary to drive around my neighborhood for a minimum of 10 minutes in order to be able to find a spot… I don’t mind the way people drive here (I am actually worse than most of them !) but the lack of parking lots and the incredible number of cars in circulation is insane. Italy is the country with the highest quantity of cars per capita in Europe, and believe me, this drives me crazy!

Do you think life in Italy is for everyone? Why does it work for you?

Life in Italy is not for everybody, that is for certain

To live in Italy you need to naturally own a certain level of adaptability, flexibility and patience that is definitely above the average norm. To me, the people here in Italy are wonderful but it requires a lot of time to get to know them and to let them open up and welcome you completely. In other words, you need to prove your worth… and not any foreigner can handle that.

I think it works for me because my personality is very similar to theirs’, I am Mediterranean as well (with the good and bad things that go with it), I love the culture, the language and the diversity you can find here. Besides, I know how to appreciate some very small details in my daily life here, which is key to fully enjoy what some would call the dolce vita… and this helps to forget for a while the stress and the annoying little things that Italy can sometimes generate within us.

It often happens that some people think I am Italian because I guess I really adopted their manners, way to communicate and sense of humor… which are drastically different from the ones in France! That is a weird feeling but I think I was actually more predisposed to live in Italy than in France.

Hence your nickname ‘Franco Fiorentino’. What advice would you give a person who has just arrived?

I would recommend not to judge anyone or Italian behaviors in general, essentially come with an open mind. If you come to Italy from a foreign country, it is because you are looking for something different, so why would you complain? Instead, ingenuously share with Italians your enthusiasm for the things you like in Italy and that are very different from your original country and trust me, everybody will love you!

As paradoxical as it could sound, I think that it is a good thing for a foreigner who just arrived in Italy to meet some people from their same country and that have been living in Italy for a while (the ones who are actually enjoying it !): it is simply an easy way to speed up the integration process and meet some of their local friends, smoothing a little bit the trauma of not speaking the language.

Learning Italian is of course the first thing to do. No need to be perfect, but the will to learn must be really there… simply because the language goes with the culture and being reluctant with the Italian language would automatically lead to fail at being well-accepted.
Something that all the foreigners who want to live in Italy should keep in mind is that they are the “new” ones, and that no Italian was waiting for them to go ahead with their business.

Always remembering that they are the only ones that must adapt and being as humble as possible is the only true advice that I could give to newcomers.

nico6

Great advice! Three finds/places everyone should know about in Florence?

Piazza della Passera (close to where I live, beautiful and very bustling piazzetta !). You will find there good cocktails, Tuscan food, tapas and even amazing gelato

The Corridoio Vasariano, for the best view over the Arno and for the feeling of mysteriousness it;s visit provides. Unique!

The roof terrace of Hotel Cavour, for me the best view of the city! Having an aperitivo there will make you forget the small stuff!

What’s the weirdest thing you have seen/experienced in Italy?

The gypsies who are slightly smelly covered in white paint (trying to be ‘street performers) trying to noisily kiss people and kids while running like a fool in Piazza Santa Croce and asking for money. Super creepy!

What can you do here and nowhere else?

Take a walk, honestly wherever in the city center, and have the feeling to be truly privileged. I really believe there is something in the atmosphere of this city that it is impossible to find anywhere else. That sounds cheesy but the more I travel, the more I appreciate Florence when I come back, and I am very grateful for my life here.

nico3

Favorite food? Doesn’t have to be Italian 😉

French cheese – bien sur! (Camembert, Roquefort…), Tagliolini al tartufo, pasta al forno (by G.J), tacos and G.J’s mexican food, Sushi, Indian food like curry and samosas.

I did not pay him to say that! If you had to make up a tagline for the city that you truly believe – what would it be? Be creative!

Il y a des villes comme Florence et les petites villes de toscanes (…) qui portent le voyageur, le soutiennent à chaque pas et rendent sa démarche plus légère. D’autres qui pèsent tout de suite sur ses épaules et l’écrasent (…) et il faut y apprendre peu à peu à se redresser et à voir.

“There are cities like Florence and the small towns of Tuscany (…) that carry the traveler, support them with every step and make its lighter approach. On others, weighing immediately on his shoulders and crush (…) and you have to learn gradually to recover and see”

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33 Comment

  1. Reply
    Gil
    20.11.2014 at 10:28

    Great interview. He has quite an interesting background.

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      20.11.2014 at 10:41

      I know I’m biased but I think so too, when we met I had no idea he has lived in so many different places. It definitely makes a difference when you are moving your life abroad.

  2. Reply
    Miss Teaque
    20.11.2014 at 10:41

    Awesome!
    Great advice, a very good read, thanks for that
    (I hope it will help when I move there!)

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      20.11.2014 at 10:56

      Thanks for taking the time to read & comment. He really gave some sound advice and I’m not just saying that because we live together, I was impressed too!

  3. Reply
    Linda
    20.11.2014 at 11:16

    Fantastic interview! I see so many photos of this Local you truly Love that it was great to read his words about his life in Florence and with you – the “craziness to which he is now addicted!” Beautiful! And we have a piano at Casa MB that is begging to be played – so hopefully you’ll make it to Orvieto in the new year!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      20.11.2014 at 11:46

      Hello Linda, when I read his words, I was touched myself and we live together. Sometimes writing it all down really lets someone open up. I am definitely the ‘outgoing’ crazy one but he really is wise. Must be all that traveling ;-). We would love to come visit you in Orvieto and play the piano. 2015 it’s on!

  4. Reply
    Gina
    20.11.2014 at 11:28

    Schooled in Canada, he must be super smart 🙂 You both seem like neat people and a great couple! Thanks for inspiring us to live up the Florentine life!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      20.11.2014 at 11:44

      Thanks Gina! He is super smart but he’d never let you know it. It must be all of that music & math ;-). Thank you for reading and commenting!

  5. Reply
    susan
    20.11.2014 at 14:06

    He’s gorgeous, wise and filled with a sense of adventure. How lucky you two are to hae found each other. susan

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      20.11.2014 at 14:11

      Thank you Susan! When we were just friends, I would also brag about him to other people and it almost seems like fate that we are now together. It’s not often you meet someone that you have so much in common with despite having completely different backgrounds. Dreams do come true at times 😉

  6. Reply
    Madeleine
    20.11.2014 at 14:23

    GG,

    Congrats on managing to convince Nico to be interviewed for your blog! 🙂
    Great post – fun reading – and I agree with all he says about Florence and Italy.

    Much love from London
    xx
    Madeleine

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      20.11.2014 at 15:26

      Madeleine! When are you coming to visit us? Thanks for checking this out 🙂

  7. Reply
    Judith in Umbria
    20.11.2014 at 18:01

    Thanks for sharing your nice man with us.

  8. Reply
    Deb
    21.11.2014 at 0:45

    Love reading all of your blogs. You must realize how very lucky you are to have found a unique life together. I told you I am from Texas and lived in Tuscany but DID NOT have the same luck. You are living my dream. Always wanted to live the rest of my life there.

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      21.11.2014 at 10:01

      Hello Deb, thank you so much for following my blog. I appreciate it! I do feel very lucky that we have found our ‘niche’ in life together. We may have to return to the states at some point for work but I always forsee living here for the long-term.

  9. Reply
    Alexandra
    21.11.2014 at 8:22

    I laughed pretty hard when I saw you interviewed your own boyfriend, but actually, despite knowing Nico, reading his words helps me know him better. He is such a nice guy, G, you’ve found yourself a keeper!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      21.11.2014 at 10:00

      I’ve been begging him to do this since we were friends because I think he has some pretty valid advice to offer. Why not interview people close to home, it ain’t called ‘locals I love’ for nothing 😉

  10. Reply
    Pecora Nera
    21.11.2014 at 20:47

    This is a really cool interview 🙂 I love the idea of interviewing our other-half. I might try this with Mrs Sensible, but I dread to think what her answers would be.

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      22.11.2014 at 10:08

      Haha I let him do this on his own time and he took well, about six months? I’d say interview Mrs Sensible and edit the parts you don’t like, she doesn’t have admin access on your blog does she? (joking)

  11. Reply
    Cassandra
    23.11.2014 at 19:22

    I love that you interviewed your boyfriend! Yay for international couples 🙂 The mix of international cuisines definitely reflects the adventurous spirit that both of you share.

    Amen to this: “If you come to Italy from a foreign country, it is because you are looking for something different, so why would you complain?”YES. I never understand when those who go abroad relentlessly criticize their adopted (or temporary) home. I have a coworker who criticizes everything about Spain–right down to the “terrible socks”–and I really can’t fathom this feeling of how something different makes it wrong.

    I was surprised to see that Nicolas is a biomedical engineer–my boyfriend is in the same field! (Andres is in optics, and I’ve learned more about eyeballs than I ever thought I would–Georgette, perhaps you can say the same about in vitro diagnostics!)

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      23.11.2014 at 23:16

      Ciao Cassandra, I really couldn’t help myself. I’ve had this blog for many years and only now has it really become a good idea, mainly because I also need more males to give their own unique point of view. Yay for International couples indeed. I know what you mean about the ‘constant complainers’ I just don’t get it anymore. I did after perhaps a year in Italy, but after eight – it takes more effort and energy than just accepting, or choosing not to and doing something about it. How funny that your guy is in the same field, Nico is specifically in V&V (verification and validation) and unfortunately you are right, I know way too much about blood diagnostics and protocols than I ever thought possible. Mamma mia. 🙂

  12. Reply
    Cindy
    30.11.2014 at 15:06

    Great and thoughtful post by Nico! It’s nice you have best of both worlds, an French man that passes for an italian-double score! I’ve loved your posts about your travels in France, and this post is a wonderful perspective on living in Italy from another European’s point of view. We live next to Argonne labs, a large research center outside of Chicago-if you all ever make it out here let us know;)!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      30.11.2014 at 19:39

      Thank you so much Cindy for reading it, it means a lot to us both. I do think I hit the dating jackpot 😉 hehe, we both have that itch for travel that means weekend trips are almost a must and we both really enjoy life in Florence. We certainly plan on visiting Chicago sometime and I will be in touch when we do 🙂

  13. Reply
    Elisa
    02.12.2014 at 19:43

    Hi Georgette! It’s me again..Hope you don’t mind me being that nosy… What language do you talk to” Franco Fiorentino”? Italian or English? as you know I’m Italian and I find Nico’s English closer to a Latin moulded language than yours…

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      20.02.2015 at 12:40

      Hello ELisa, you’re not nosy at all, I apologize for not replying to this sooner! We speak a combination of Italian and English, he tends to veer towards the Italian, me to the English. And now I am trying to learn French so basically everyone is confused. Especially the dog.

  14. Reply
    Jacqueline Mariani
    13.12.2014 at 9:48

    What a great interview. I enjoyed very much reading Nico’s perspective and wholeheartedly agree with his views on foreigners who move to Florence (Italy in general, I suppose) and integrating into the culture. I also enjoy reading your blog. It’s great to read, after all the years you’ve lived here, such upbeat and interesting articles rather than taking the negative approach about all that is frustrating and, as one foreigner puts it, the “byzantine” ways of Italy. I have been here just over a year and still enjoy all of the little things; I hope I always do. I’ve traveled all over Italy for years and still find Florence to be as fascinating today as I did on my first visit in 1985!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      15.12.2014 at 10:19

      Hello Jacqueline, thank you for taking the time to read the post, but comment too. I appreciate everyone’s opinions and views. In fact that was the point of the blog, to share stories, perspectives, even tears if need be. Why not? Nico and I are a good match because we both really want to be here. We know we could go somewhere else, get more money, probably live more comfortably but what we value is something else, lifestyle. Which here, really is the best (for us). I think there are plenty of negative people and blog posts that I don’t really need to add fire to the flames. We know it’s hard to live here, the post office sucks and it can be almost impossible to get a (good) job. But ok, what instead can WE do about that to change our own situations.. Happy that you are enjoying your time here!

  15. Reply
    Jessica
    15.02.2015 at 23:29

    Try to find a “local you love” working in the post office in Florence… guess we will never be reading that blog! Complaining about “foreigners who complain” ummm… what are you exactly? Texan not Tuscan… “foreigners” i.e. cash-cows for the local Florentine economy… without whom the entire tourist industry that is holding places like Florence up, would collapse… yes those “foreigners” that annoy you so much have a right to complain from the appalling treatment and seething contempt they are treated with!! Your glossy-eyed little blog is nothing more than “fantasy-land” indeed! Keep looking through those rose coloured glasses dear! Ignorance is bliss! Pretending that Florence is not full of rude, aggressive and downright ignorant, hostile and yes, toxic natives (post office wins that one hands down) only makes you look totally niaive. Great place without the natives! And you are not one of them! Ciao!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      16.02.2015 at 11:02

      Hello Jessica, I appreciate every single comment on this blog, positive and negative so fair enough. I’m not sure you have read that much on this blog because if you did, you would see that I always touch on both frustrations in Italy (living in Italy post might be a good read for you), the actual ‘good and bad’ realities of life here while also trying to remain positive because being a negative asshole is just not going to help me out in enjoying my day to day life. I do agree that people have every right to complain about the city they live in. Personally I do all of the time, especially at bureaucratic offices, but both Nico and I have both lived here for a long time and maybe because our attitudes have softened to the reality of life in another country, thus so has other’s attitudes towards us. I don’t really get treated that bad anymore at the post office, and actually in the states where I’m from, it kinda sucks too. There are ignorant and hostile people in many places around the world, I’ve never personally felt that they were more so here than where I’m from. If you feel that my blog is totally naive, that’s ok I can take that with a grain of salt, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and luckily the internet is a free world where anyone can choose to read whatever they like.

  16. Reply
    Christina
    05.03.2015 at 6:13

    Your interview with Nico is so adorable! What a great guy 🙂 Glad you two are happy and loving life in Florence!

  17. Reply
    carmen
    25.10.2015 at 6:19

    Hi Georgette! I loved your story/interview of Nico! You are truly a lucky and lovely couple. Got me thinking and wondering, how is it that you met? I still have not found the love of my life. I can hardly wait to visit my dream.. Italia! IT is lovely you are in love with someone there and that happens to be french but as you say more italian than French! I am Mexican and perhaps feel in my past life I was Italian. I love everything there is about Italy and no mater what happens in Italy I look forward to being there and have a feeling I will already miss it even though I have not been there yet. I try keep up with your blogs on FB but I do not log on FB often. I appreciate every story you write about so thank you! Best regards from California 🙂 – Carmen

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      26.10.2015 at 9:58

      Ciao Carmen, thank you so much for your kind words! We actually met many years ago, as just friends through a mutual French friend of both of ours. Only a few year’s ago did we actually become anything more and I have never been happier. Friendships truly bloom into wonderful romances. I am also half-Mexican and I know how you feel, you certainly can have a connection with another country just by idealizing the same things, and respecting the culture.

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