Student Perspective: La Famiglia

Photo by Camilo Alexei M Giannella Reflections on the Italian Family by Richard J. Widden When living in Italy one cannot help but notice the social and cultural differences between this country and America. The Italian lifestyle, as evidenced by habits like the pausa di pranzo (or long, midday break) seems much more relaxed and stress-free …

Pico della Mirandola

Count Giovanni Pico della Mirandola lent his name to a Florentine saying: “You have the mind of Pico della Mirandola”. This means “you are very bright”. We would probably say someone was as clever as Einstein. Pico was born, in body, on the February 24, 1463 in Mirandola, Province of Modena, the youngest of the …

Origins of the Vespa

Photo by rromer Vespa scooters are an integral part of Italian society and have been a strong cultural icon since they exploded onto the market almost 60 years ago. The Piaggio Company in Pontedera, near Pisa, manufactured the first Vespa scooter in 1946 to address the need for a low cost transportation solution in post-war Italy, …

Discovering Piazza della Signoria

Photo by Matthew Hutchinson (Flickr user) Walking into Piazza della Signoria, where does one look first? David, Perseus, Neptune and Hercules all vie for attention. Practically an open-air sculpture museum, the piazza boasts a colorful and violent history. Savonarola was burnt to death in 1498 and a mob once ate a man alive in the …

Appreciating the Slow Pace of Italy

The cafes are packed with people enjoying hot cappuccinos and fresh croissants as they discuss the day ahead. The people of Florence are always relaxed, in no rush to go anywhere. Initially this pace may seem frustrating. How is it possible to get to work, to class, to dinner, to the library on time if …