Girl in Florence

A Tuscan Texan immersed in Florentine life

Locals I love – Amy Mancino


Today is a very special day in Italy – April 25th, 1945 {Festa della Liberazione} which marks the day that Italy was liberated from Nazi Germany. This in addition to showing respect for the Italian resistance risking their lives fighting against both Benito Mussolini’s armies as well as the Germans. In the Tuscan hills that we so much love to gaze, write and photograph – is where so many of the resistence was forced to hide risking death upon capture.  Expect to see lots of people in the center of major Italian cities, parades and many businesses closed. The past will never be forgotten, especially not in this part of the world.

‘Locals I love’ is back for round two and this weeks victim happens to be another long-term veteran in Florence, Italy and can pretty much call herself a bona-fida Questura di Firenze expert. A title that I myself take fairly seriously. She is the one person I go to advice when I am confused about Italy-red-tape.  I met Amy a few years ago and she is as real as it gets, sharp sarcastic sense of humor that you really tend to appreciate after the third time a new arrival asks you where the Starbucks is in Florence.

Who is she? Name, Nationality, profession and of course — favorite drink? 

Amy Mancino,  American, job: Relocation counselor, translator. Favorite drink is hard to pick probably vodka cranberry this month.

How long have you lived in Florence and where are you from originally. {Original question, I know!}

I have lived in Florence since 1989 and am originally from Trenton, New Jersey. I moved to the suburb of Campi Bisenzio 10 years ago.

I like that you mention the localita where you live – you really are Italian. 😉 What brought you to bella Firenze and why did you decide to stay
I came for a yearlong internship with one of the fashion houses and it ended up being quite a long internship.

That’s what makes life more exciting, who knew! What are you up to in Florence? Work, daily life, hobbies?
I assist corporate executives in searching for houses and that is all over the downtown area, for the immigration part of relocation I am usually at one of the municipal offices, either in Via Pietrapiana or Piazza Liberta and of course at the Questura in Via dell Fortezza. We love to come for drinks and dinner on Friday nights without our kids

A typical 'Questura' day
A typical ‘Questura’ day

You need a drink if you visit the questura that often, I liked your idea of opening a bar inside, it’s a shame Renzi didn’t approve it. What annoys you about Florence? Tell us the truth!

Not much annoys me anymore, I hate the traffic and the price of parking is too high.

Firenze Parcheggi are pretty much thieves, I agree! Do you think life in Italy is for everyone? Why does it work for you?
Life here is not for everyone, I work with many foreigners who are on work assignments here and I have a list about 20 pages long of the stuff they complain about. It works for me because I have always looked at it as it’s own country that has functioned and done pretty well for centuries, foreigners (Americans in particular) seem to think the only country that does things right is their own, if someone expects to find things done the same way as there here they will be in for a big surprise. You need to keep things in perspective.

What advice would you give a newbie?

For those coming to study or vacation to not waste their time wondering why things are done here just to embrace it, not worrying about why you need to pay bills at the post office or why people stare at you if you lay out in the sun on the monument in Piazza della Repubblica. You are a guest in a city that lives and functions and not everyone here is on a 3-month study program or vacation, it is not Disney World. For those who want to move here for a long period, LEARN THE LANGUAGE, lack of communication leads to frustration, people always tell me the woman at the register was nasty to them, or yelling at them, when really they just express themselves differently here, there are no forced smiles and “y’all have a great day” type of attitude in Italy.

Great advice! When I learned the language I absolutely saw the difference mainly because you do stop misinterpreting situations and thinking people are being rude to you. Three finds/places everyone should know about in Florence?
My favorite thing to see in Florence is Calcio Storico in June.
If possible the Corridoio Vasariano – Vasari Corridor 
Most beautiful church is San Miniato al Monte.

Calcio Storico
Calcio Storico

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

I don’t think we have enough time for this. One thing that stands out was in 1990, there was a very good soccer player here named Roberto Baggio who played for Florence. He swore he would never leave the city etc. but the President who was Pontello sold him to the rival Juventus team. The city went nuts, there were thousands in Piazza Savanarola protesting and throwing rocks etc. I had only been here a year or so and thought it was some kind of political coup. Instead it was for a soccer player. I then realized that priorities here were quite different from the rest of the world!

Wow! What can you do here and nowhere else?
Drink fantastic wine from a city rooftop and have a view of the city that is second to none in the world.

In fact I think Florence’s terraces will soon be open to the public, yay! How did you make friends and assimilate?
I made friends first through the workplace and then through the schools my kids went to and running into the same people every day for years.

Favorite food? I think I might know the answer to this one. 
No one can do a rare steak like the Florentines. I am also a big fan of Ribollita.

The real ‘Bistecca Fiorentina’ or Florentine steak!

You need to stop posting pictures of those gorgeous steaks, I almost drool on myself at work daily! Last question: If you had to make up a tagline for the city – what would it be? 
The loon capital….you know where I can coming from with this one
Or rather..  Florence the eternal seductress or something along those lines. It seems like forever that it has enchanted people from all walks of life from everywhere.


I agree Amy —  the ‘loon capital’ applies pretty well too,  we certainly have met our share of crazy people. I will never forget when you told me that one of your work assignments actually believed the Arno River rats were ‘otters’ and commented on how cute they were. Or the lady that lived in Florence for over two years and really thought the name of the river was ‘Ponte Vecchio Arno’. Florence and the people that pass through here are certainly never boring. Thanks Amy for letting me pick your brain! 

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0 Responses

  1. Dream-life, even if it includes multiple trips to the Questura. Great read!

  2. Dear Amy, usually I do not normally follow blogs, but I felt compelled to strongly commend your answers. Probably the most sensible comments I’ve ever heard from an American living abroad.
    They should frame your answer to the question “Do you think life in Italy is for everyone? Why does it work for you?” and include it in every possible tourist guide/advertising/informational material for Americans considering living abroad, not just in Italy.
    I wish most of your fellow citizens had the same enlightened attitude.

Georgette Jupe

Welcome to my personal blog by a curious American girl living and working between Zug, Switzerland and Florence, Italy with my husband Nico, our newborn Annabelle and Ginger the beagle. This space is primarily to share about my love for Italy (currently on a 13 year romance) with a fair amount of real talk, practical advice, travel suggestions and adjusting to a new culture (Switzerland). Find me on IG @girlinflorence @girlinzug

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