LONDON VS FLORENCE- 10 DIFFERENCES

I’ve been living in London for almost three years now, and during this time I have come to discover some major differences between London and Florence and some which also stand as differences between Italy and the England in general.

Of course, there are some obvious differences, such as language and currency but there are also some you may not have thought about unless you know both London and Florence very well.

So, let’s get started:

1.The Tube. Well, saying Londoner and Tube is like saying knight and horse, the two stick together till death do them apart. The Londoner can barely go anywhere without the tube, which is understandable considering that from Richmond to Stradford it takes an hour by tube, which according to TfL equals 2+ hrs by bus. And forget walking, walking is almost never an option in London, unless you’re really into your steps count app, and don’t mind reaching your destination the next day.  But unlike London, Florence doesn’t have a tube line. Florentines just got a tram line less than ten years ago, which is still not even finished and people still don’t really know how it works and where it brings you. You can pretty much walk everywhere in Florence, which is one thing I really miss about my city. None of that £150 pm travelcard nonsense.

2.The food. Of course, as an Italian, I cannot live in London and not complain about the food. To be completely honest the variety of cuisines which are present in London, are far more than those you’ll find in Florence, but we all know that’s because London would have very little to offer food wise if the government suddenly decided to shut down any non- British restaurant in town. Yep, you heard that right, British cuisine, which is not eve a thing, which pretty much sums up my point. Italy is known for its delicious food, from meat to fish, pasta, and pizza. Say what you want about Italy, but the food is just unique. The vegetables are nice and fresh, the fruit actually has a taste.

3.Return Policy. While London’s stores are constantly visited by those ‘I wanna refund *insert random retail purchase*’ customers, your chances of getting any money back for an item you purchased and no longer like/ want in Florence are none. I can only speak for my city but I do know Refunds are not actually a thing in Italy. From H&M to Zara, to Gucci, whatever the item you purchase is, you will not get your money back. So, if you ever decide to go shopping in Florence or anywhere in Italy, be sure to not have any doubts about what you’re buying. Forget your money back, just feel lucky if they even offer you a credit note.

4.The weather. Ok, we all know London’s weather is absolutely crap. It’s not even about the rain in my opinion, but the fact that the sun is nowhere to be seen… Ever! Ok maybe not ever, but surely by June you’d expect it to be almost summer, but nooo. London will always be known for its terrible weather. Florence, on the other hand, is great when it comes to the weather. It’s cold when it should be cold(winter), warm when it should be warm(spring) and hot when it should be bloody hot(summer). Unfortunately, London has no set seasons. It’s either cold, really cold, extremely cold or not cold but raining, or not raining but not sunny either. Whatever the weather in London, 90% of the time you can guarantee it won’t be nice.

5.Voting. I’ve voted twice in England now and apparently voting with a  pen is a thing. However, in Italy voting by pen is not accepted; any vote which is marked by pen will automatically become invalid. Also, a proxy vote is actually possible in England and no form of ID is needed to actually cast your vote. There is no chance you’ll be able to vote on someone else’s behalf in Italy, not even if you got run over and were physically unable to go to the polling station. The vote is seen as something secretive and highly personal.

6. University. Besides my personal experience with Professors who actually know you by name and not by Regnum number in London, the biggest difference I noticed is the way exams work. While in Italy you have ‘exams session’ in England,  you have one exam date. The difference between an exam session and exam date is that during exam sessions there are different dates in which you can take that exam. So you will have a winter and a summer session to take the exams and each session has 3/4 different dates in which you can choose when you want to take that exam. In England, in contrast, you have one date, which basically means that if you don’t turn up, you fail. Exams can also be pushed back in Italy, meaning you can take a first year’s exam in your final year of university. If on the one hand, this is a good thing, as it allows students to decide when and how they want to organize their uni life, on the other, it is not always a good idea leaving it to the students to make such decisions. You often get the so called ‘fuori corso’, which are students who have gone over the academic time given to finish the degree course, and I’m talking about waaaay over the years required to finish the course.  This pretty much can’t happen in the England, as you must sit exams on a specific date and will not pass on to the following year if you don’t.

7.Relationships. The good thing about London is that it’s such a big city that if you go out clubbing and meet someone, there are little chances they’ve previously been involved with someone you know. Florence, on the other hand, is quite a small city and there are high chances that your new crush is either a friend of someone you know or has even been in a relationship with them. Of course, this also depends on the people you mix with, and where you usually hang out, but whoever you meet there are very high chances that you’ll have at least one friend/acquaintance in common. Privacy is a real privilege in Florence.

8.Time. Time seems to be what a lot of people lack in London. Everyone is always in a hurry, trying to squeeze their way through the crowd and almost killing themselves to catch that one minute earlier tube as if one second really did make a huge difference. Florence instead is no way near as frenetic as London;  in Florence, people take it easy, way too easy at times, that if you are actually in a hurry you’d wish they’d move out your way instead of walking as if they had a lifetime to get to where they’re going. London, in contrast, can make the calmest and most relaxed person a freaking nerve rack for the fast paste lifestyle it requires you to live. If you want to meet up with a friend you can’t just ring them and say ‘I’m on my way’ unless you’ve planned it all a few weeks ahead. Florence on the other hand, allows its citizens to go for breakfast, lunch, shopping, coffee, hairdressers, museum, aperitif and dinner all in the same day. Days really seem much longer in Florence.

9. The ‘Siesta’. Ok, siesta is a Spanish concept, meaning an early afternoon nap between working hours. However, when I was younger it used to be common in Florence that stores/offices closed for lunchtime around 12:30 pm and reopen around 3.30/4 pm. As business is changing and crisis is increasing, this tradition is slowly disappearing. However, you will find some stores which still close for the lunchtime siesta, especially in Summer when it’s 30° C and ain’t nobody got time to be working with a sweaty forehead.

10. Summer Holidays. In England, Children start school early September and finish mid/late July. That gives them around 6 weeks summer holidays. In Italy students begin school mid-September and break up early June. That is a whole 3 months of Summer holidays, people! Although that might be the worst nightmare for working parents, it is the best feeling ever for a child. 3 months is a really long time, so long you sometimes forget what studying even is. But it’s not only the children who have it sweet, some workers also do. Some practitioners are closed for over 2/3 weeks during Summer. Especially if you are in need of a doctor or of a lawyer during August, Florence is definitely not the place to be. Most doctors and lawyers will go away for the whole month as if nothing could happen to anyone during the summer. Summer is kinda sacred in Florence, probably because Italians actually have one…

There are so many more differences I’d like to share with you guys, but I wanted to keep this post fairly short. I’ll be back soon with other differences between my hometown and the city I have chosen to live in.

I hope you all enjoyed this post and feel free to comment below and add some differences to the list!

Until Next time!

Isabel

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