When you arrive in Florence the first thing that you’ll notice is that people are staring at you. They stare at you when you walk into a restaurant, they stare at you while you’re eating, they stare at you while you walk down the street. Believe it or not, it’s not because you’re foreign, or a woman, or because of your hair. Sure, they might stare a little more for these reasons but the truth is that Italians stare. They stare at other Italians too. It’s not considered rude here and people are really into watching other people. It’s annoying but eventually you’ll get used to it.
The second thing you might notice is that everyone seems annoyed or angry. There is screaming in the street, screaming in the coffee shop, and when you ask a question someone answers you quickly and without a smile. Oddly enough, they’re not being rude. Italians don’t smile a lot when they are conducting customer service. They also scream when they are talking about nothing at all and gesture wildly pretty much all the time. What looks like two men screaming at each other is usually just two men talking about their wives cake, or a soccer game, or how warm it is outside. The Italian people practically convulse when they speak, they often lock eye contact, and raise their voices because they are just so excited about what they’re saying. Real aggression here is insanely rare (compared to the US) though it certainly seems like the entire country is full of angry people.