Burnt to a Crisp – Americans Behaving Badly in Florence

Florence is a living museum, a museum that reminds us that not everything changes even in this age of Google and smart phones.

One of the first foundling safe havens at Ospedale degli Innocenti
Culla per la Vita at Ospedale degli Innocenti

The early Renaissance orphanage Ospedale degli Innocenti in Piazza SS. Annunziata had a foundling wheel known as culla per la vita (life cradle) where unwanted newborns could be left anonymously to save them from a watery death in the Arno. Today, a society that honors Padre Pio has a modern culla per la vita, located across from the small church of San Remigio in the Santa Croce neighborhood. Its purpose is the same – to give foundlings a safe haven – in a special spot, cared for by special people.

The statue of Dante in front of Santa Croce reminds us of the great literary achievement of a medieval genius, who is being celebrated today by Roberto Benigni in Tutto Dante and is getting another kind of pop culture fame in an international bestseller.

The Santa Trinita Bridge owes it design to Michelangelo and Ammannati in 1567 and was so important that it was rebuilt with the same stones to the same design after the German troops blew it up in 1944.

Piazza Signoria contains one of the largest collections of original sculptures available for public viewing free of charge. The Neptune by Ammannati, the copy of Michelangelo’s David and Pio Fedi’s Rape of Polyxena and Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women are all favorites.

The Baptistry and the Duomo are at the heart of the city and have been in the hearts of residents and visitors for seven hundred years.

But Then Came The Study-Abroad Programs

An estimated 7,000 Americans, 80 percent of whom are women, come to Florence every year through about 40 study-abroad programs. This and the advent of Snooki and her gang from the Jersey Shores in 2011, and another hundred short tours by American high school and college student groups, have resulted in a bad rep for Americans in Florence, basically undoing any good opinion, left over from World War II, held by Florentines over sixty, and the respect once held by everyone else regarding American ingenuity, intelligence and  drive.

Snookie and her friends representing America in Florence
Snookie and her friends representing America in Florence

On July 25, 2013, at least two sloppy drunk American college students wandered into Piazza San Remigio. For some reason one young man decided to test the door of the culla per la vita and when the four-foot high, two-foot wide, door slid open he stuffed his intoxicated female friend inside. As the glass door closed, she proceeded to treat this climate-controlled, pristine haven for babies as her own disco cage and commenced singing and dancing to the amusement of her friends. What they apparently didn’t notice was the sign in four languages that warns that once the door closes it will lock until the medical volunteers arrive.

Modern safe haven for babies in Piazza Remigio
Modern safe haven for babies in Piazza San Remigio

Arrive they did. The Catholic Church volunteer service, known as the Misericordia, received the automatic alarm from the culla per la vita and they pulled up in an ambulance within minutes to find the drunken twosome. They did not immediately release the performing girl. They called the police. The young man ran off to get his friends. They returned and started to rain abuse down on the heads of the medical personnel. One American claimed to be a lawyer and threatened legal proceedings. The Misericordia volunteers asked for names and phone numbers. Those were refused. Because the police did not arrive in a timely manner, and in fear that the foundling window would be damaged, the volunteers felt they had to release the inebriated girl. The story was reported throughout the local newspapers, including herehereherehere and here. The unifying points in each of these articles is that she was American and she was drunk.

In June 2012, among the wheels of the scooters, parked at the foot of Santa Croce’s statue of Dante, two drunk randy American students decided to partially strip and engage in intercourse on the pavement. They were filmed for YouTube and immortalized via smart phones. Their parents and grandparents must be proud of this educational experience gained in the Renaissance City.

In 2004, an Irish girl was drinking with her friends on the triangular stone platform topping one of the piers of the Santa Trinita Bridge. They had climbed over the bridge railing to set up their minibar. Later, she staggered to her feet, fell into the river, and died. It happened again last year. In two separate incidents, in one April week, a drunk 30 year old American man and an inebriated 20 year old Italian woman both were pulled – alive – from the Arno after falling off bridges.

Right hand broken off Neptune statue
Right hand broken off Neptune statue

At least once a month when it’s warm the vigili chase Anita Ekberg wannabes out of the Neptune Fountain in Piazza Signoria. The fine is 160 euro. In 1991, a man in his underpants scaled Neptune and tried to remove the spiky pigeon deterrent ring from around his head. In 2005, drunken youths managed to break off the diety’s right hand, a toe and a seashell, just to get a cell phone photo.

In the Shadow of the Dome
In the Shadow of the Dome

Tourists and students have tried to climb on the copy of Michelangelo’s David and the statues on the Loggia dei Lanzi. Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women was damaged in 1971 and 1987, and Fedi’s Rape of Polyxena was defaced in 1971, 1982 and this year.

Last month, one night around midnight, I was reading The Paris Wife about the bad behavior of Americans Ernest, Scott and Zelda in France, when I heard a group of people yelling in English in the street outside my open window – not an uncommon occurrence since I live in the shadow of the dome, a half block from the cathedral. First, an American girl was asking her friend if they should urinate “right here.” Then, the two drunk twentysomething boys laughed and did just that against the wall of the jewelry shop across the street. They seemed somewhat miffed when I yelled at them to leave my street before I called the police and that they made me embarrassed to be an American living in Florence. I admit that I also opined on their behavior, their upbringing, and their parentage until they turned the corner.

Unrelated, but still in my neighborhood, three weeks later, graffiti reading “Shotty#1 crew” was scribbled on the 800-yearold marble facade of the  the cathedral’s Baptistry with black permanent marker (perpetrator unknown).

Not a New Problem

American high school student injured
American high school student injured

Certainly, all of the uncivilized, disrespectful behavior that occurs in Florence can not be laid at the feet of American students,  but the number of alcohol related events and injuries: a student severely injured from fall off apartment balcony at party (2003); Arizona high school student at disco (with group chaperoned by teacher) has permanent brain damage after being assaulted with a golf club (2007); and finally, young American soldier, drunk and apparently role-playing the video game Assassin’s Creed fell to his death from a rooftop in Piazza della Repubblica (2011), make the naysayers’ arguments weak. Moreover, a 2012 study abroad student shared a maddening set of stories from the first couple of days of her Florence program and ended her post with: “All in all, Italians do enjoy a good drink and having a fun time. But in a whole semester of studying abroad, I can’t remember a single time I saw an Italian stumbling around drunk and making a scene on the way to a club. As for Americans… there are more times than I could ever count.”

Official study abroad program materials routinely discuss the problem like this:

One of the most fundamental rules of Italian culture is moderation. At first glance, Italians might seem to drink a lot, but upon a closer look, quite the opposite is true. They do drink – spumante to celebrate, limoncello to digest, aperitivo to taste and vino to mix with food – but with moderation, not in order to get drunk. In fact, the quickest way to lose the respect of your Italian friends and neighbors is to get drunk in public. Drinking on the streets is also considered very disrespectful.

However, not much seems to change. The mayor has weighed in on the problem with pressure on both the the school programs and the bars, but found he could not do much to influence the schools and got a major push back from the establishments making so much money off of the sale of alcohol to American teenagers and college students.

Why Now?

Post this sign in Florence streets
Post this sign in Florence streets

After fifteen years living in Florence, and almost as many writing about it, I’m not sure why this constant irritation has finally burst forth to a point that I had to write about it before I could sleep well again. Maybe it was the thought of the stupid girl dancing on the baby’s bed, but more likely it was the two Americans who were planning to pee on my doorstep and the other two who, in fact, did so in full view of my window. Heaven knows this isn’t the first time a drunk has stunk up my street, but it is the first time I’ve had to listen to them talk about it first.

And, of course, don’t get me started on the group of eleven Americans who made a reservation at a small Florentine restaurant and did not call to cancel, but never showed up …

35 thoughts on “Burnt to a Crisp – Americans Behaving Badly in Florence

  1. Generally speaking, (from which one can moreover refine my statement): it seems that American youth have nearly lost all proper ‘manner & protocol’ when in Europe. Such a misfortune has been the result of a nation, who had long ago decided to culturally & spritually divorce herself from Mother Europe during the secular American Revolution. In other words, that new ‘American Adam’ in the making.

    Well… that new ‘American Adam’ is drowning in alcohol & public vulgarity.

    She (America) never regained a spiritual reference previously thrown away for an overall godless materialism (i.e. eat, sleep, wake-up, material consumption, eat, sleep, wake-up, material consumption et cetera et cetera).

    Ergo, the current ‘values’ of the American societal cycle.

    By contrast -Italian Argentines (European Argentines in general)- are generally a civilised bunch simply because Argentina herself had never culturally nor spiritually broken away from her European mother. Hence, the difference of overall civility (i.e. a love for Europe).

    For the record: an Argentine I’m not, but an Andalusian giving an ‘eye & ear’ to many things.

  2. Why write this at all? is my question. This is not interesting, nor does it serve any good purpose. I am sure there are Italians that behave badly in other countries, I am sure you could find similar examples for any group of people you are singling out anywhere.

    Good grief, eleven AMERICANS did not cancel their dinner reservation?

    I am a long-time reader and an American traveler that loves Italy and visits every year. It is summer, it is hot, and perhaps you need a break! I look forward to the next article being in the spirit of fun and useful information.

  3. So shameful. My husband and I love – adore – Italy and her many treasures. We are appalled when we see similar things. In truth, the percentage of despicable American tourists is probably small compared to the whole (I hope), but we know which set determines the reputation. So sad. Thanks for writing about this. Hopefully it will ripple effect some positive influence on future tourists.

  4. This is horrible and embarrassing on so many levels! As someone who worked for a study abroad program in Rome, I can sadly say these types of shenanigans happen all too often. And it’s impossible for the schools to keep these kids in control. It’s one thing when they are isolated on a college campus doing damage, but the situation is far more serious when they are running wild in and devastating historic cities.
    I feel it’s a rather recent phenomenon. Meaning it’s gotten worse in the past 15 years.

  5. Your article touched me to the core. I am so upset that anyone could be so disrespectful and ill-behaved, but to know they’re Americans, makes it that much worse. I am an American of Italian decent, and proud to be, but I am ashamed of these immature, sleaze-bags. I love Italy and plan to visit Tuscany next summer. I’m sure this type of behavior isn’t exclusive to American visitors, but it hurts me to know some would call themselves American, and behave this way.

  6. It all stems back to America’s prohibitionist attitude of having to wait until age 21 to drink and yet sending kids younger than that to countries where they can buy alcohol. Of course they’re going to go wild. A lot of the schools they attend do not do anything severe about bad behavior either. They should be threatened, not only to be sent home, but to be kicked out of school as well for ever.

  7. Each and every one of these morons should pay heavy fines AND be permanently banned from the country.

  8. This is showing such disrespect to a beautiful, rich culture. We should be thankful they didn’t arrest every single American and put them in jail. I am not Italian, but come from European descent, like most every American prior to 1790 with the onset of African slavery. I love traveling to Italy and would not want to be looked at as some dysentery invading their country. This gives travelers such a bad reputation in Europe.

  9. Absolutely disgusting …I used to take students on tours of Italy and admittedly the first couple of years in the late 90’s the students were rather civil. Later, from the land of special people and accelerated privilege, the bad behavior took forefront and as the tour leader, I had no place to hide. The embarrassment was beyond belief. I do not to this day believe the behavior of the pseudo enlightened wannabes. Not only is our country on the decline, but we will not rest until we bring down the rest of the world with our lousy behavior. I do not travel with students any more and have a dual passport so ashamed am I when I travel, especially to Italy. The Italians have rebounded to a position of pride and prominence and do not need the poor behavior of American tourists, nor the currency that once brought welcome handshakes, kisses and good feelings from the Italians. Shame, shame, shame on the creeps who give America a bad name.

  10. Nina, I tend to agree with you. If the U.S. would lose the attitude that alcohol is something special to be attained on one’s 21st birthday, it would not have the allure to the kids coming to Italy. The questions can the U.S. survive through the generation that it would take to assimilate a new European attitude toward drinking in moderation and as an something to accompany food.

  11. Dear Long Time Reader: I disagree. this is a valuable and very true article. I am glad Ann wrote what many already think. I only wish the university and college programs that send these kids over here would be very clear about expectations for student behavior and consequences for public intoxication and what amounts to criminal behavior. I live in Lucca where, fortunately, this doesn’t happen very often. I haven’t been to Florence in the summer in 15 years because I simply cannot stand the huge herds of American college kids. It’s such a shame.

  12. Thank you Jane, It seems to me that there are a lot of Italians – in the press and on their blogs – talking about the problem of foreign students and tourists treating Florence like it is a frat house. Perhaps the problems will only improve when we, ourselves, start talking about how Americans and other foreigners don’t need to import their lifestyles, but can enjoy and learn something from being Italian for a day, a week or a month. Ann

  13. While I do not dispute that young students of all ages can behave badly when out on their own. I will not dispute that US study abroad students in Florence have garnered a reputation for drinking and sometimes less than desirable behavior.

    I do take issue with your attributing of every bad event that has happened in Florence to US students who attend study abroad programs.

    Most of the examples that you give were tourists (of university age) or Italians (the Neptune statue incident was the work of two brothers from Pisa) in addition the famous Santa Croce incident – well those kids were never identified – and frankly they look suspisciouly Northern European – what was worse – the act they were performing or the fact that the good citizens of Florence filimed them and watched for 20 minutes?

    Drinking is a problem – obvioulsy – and by the way the hoardes of drunks on the weekend include a Whole United Nations of young people so let’s not single out the Americans. They city turns a blind eye to the pub crawls which seem to have diminished over the years but nonetheless promote the drinking culture.

    Let’s be hones – other than what passes for “clubbing” and drinking – there is not very much for a 20 year old to do in Florence. Don’t give me the museums – how many of you ever went to a museum at 9 in the evening + how many times can one go to the Uffizi. This is not a pass for their behavior but rather let’s actually be pragmatic about the problem and really look at what’s going on here.

    Florence is an old city – demographically. That said you do have a large student populace as well as very young “immigrant” population that the city offers practically nought.

    Likewise, what can schools do? Well first and foremost have students learn Italian – most schools do not. Curriculum frankly has little to do with being in Italy and its all about a buffet approach to international education. That said – the industry brings an enormous amount of revenue into the city. In addition, the schools themselves which are housed in historci buildings serve to protect and preserve such structures that otherwise would be empty and left to deteriorate.

    “””The mayor has weighed in on the problem with pressure on both the the school programs and the bars, but found he could not do much to influence the schools and got a major push back from the establishments making so much money off of the sale of alcohol to American teenagers and college students.”””

    What can schools do? Expell students for what offence? The students are adults and legal to drink in this country, thus short of arresting them for public intoxication what would you suggest be done?

    Furthermore I did not realize that public urination was the exclusive domain of US students? (I thought it was a national pastime?)

    The city of Florence is dying as are many città di arte due to the fact we are unable to reinvent ourselves for the realities of the 21st century and recycling that cradle of the renaissance diatribe is getting old. When people in this city and country put their money where their mouth is regarding the importance of culture and heritage we will be living in a much different reality.

    And regarding the ” Italian ” view od US tourists – please – they are busy taking the piss out of the Russians and Chinese !

  14. I lived in Firenze for a month last year, and went to school, enjoyed myself, drank lots of wine, ate out, had fun with friends etc. I LOVE Firenze. But, I have to say, a month of college student antics, day and night (shouting, screaming, breaking bottles, vomiting and peeing in my street and others, plus groups of drunks pushing each other and the rest of us just trying to walk home) nearly drove me nuts.

  15. This was an interesting read. I agree that ALL college students are idiots, wherever they congregate. This is because of the access to alcohol and lack of parental oversight. I think it might be a tad unfair to single out American students, but for the fact that their numbers seem to be disproportionately high in Florence. I was in Italy a few years ago and was appalled by what Italians have done to deface their own historical and artistic heritage. I hadn’t been to Italy since I was a college student traveling by myself. What I saw when I got to Milan 5 years ago was a beautiful city virtually covered in graffiti. I struggled to find a single building in the city that wasn’t tagged, sometimes to a level higher than a person could reach without a stepladder. I saw the same thing in Venice and a friend said it is all worse in Rome. Presumably this is the work of student-age humans. There is tons of blame to go around for the decline of our civilization. People everywhere need to just stop acting like buffoons.

  16. I agree that American youth does behave questionably, here in US as Italy or other countries surely. However, as an Italian born & raised, residing in the US for decades and traveling to Italy annually, and as a travel consultant to many other countries, I am always appalled at the graffiti to buildings, statues anywhere in Italy not by foreigners, particularly Americans, but ITALIANS, and to great sadness
    it seems taken for granted and left as is. I am sure it would be costly, but with some ‘detective’ work, these culprits should be responsible for cleaning up what they so hatefully destroy.
    This was not to diminish what the young US did and will continue doing while on vacations, particularly drinking to excess that they cannot handle in a proper manner. I only hope it will improve, getting tired of apologizing for the odd behavior of the “ugly Americans” when abroad.

  17. I think it is about prohibition in the U.S making it illegal to buy alcohol before you are 21. Having taught American students many years for various Study Abroad programs, I have to say that I have seen a lot of these kinds of events, also ending badly, in the hospital etc. HOWEVER, I have always tried to be on their side, understanding, talking etc. I have participated in their beer pong tournaments (I was Beer Pong Queen, once!). I have always been a friend of my students and I think in the end I have been able – via a wine tasting seminar or a cooking class – to teach them the difference between a good and a bad wine, good wines to pair with food, and the Italian way of always combining food with alcohol (drinking to excess is never cool). In my opinion, instead of prohibiting you must help them to understand, to appreciate, to taste the differences. And then you can even have a ‘sbronza’ once in a while, but not so you endanger yourself or disturb others. Who hasn’t been 20 with that wonderful feeling of immortality and invincibleness!?

  18. Dear RMD, Thank you for your very long comment. I do not believe I have laid all of the ills of Florence at the American study abroad programs and I have provided links for more details to the series of incidents that have caused my concern. What I didn’t find is a lot of discussion by Americans about the behavior of their own. I think I have that right to make observations. What interests me most about your comments is that you seem to lay the blame on Florence for not providing enough amusement for young adults. This presupposes that all of the 7,000 American students have to drink to excess and go clubbing to have an interesting time in Florence. I suggest that it is only a few hundred sloppy drunks that are causing the problem and that the other 6,500+ are keeping themselves amused in other less public ways. Ann

  19. La situazione è drammatica e l’articolo la espone in tutta la sua verità. Scritto da un’americana molto intelligente. Per fortuna ci sono anche loro. Voglio dire, gli americani intelligenti e sensibili…

  20. Here in the US, I live near a big university and this sort of behavior is not tolerated. Students are put on academic probation and sent to special classes to try to help them change their behavior. If this doesn’t work, they are expelled. Perhaps a partnership with Universities & the local Florence police? I don’t know. I do know that, being the parent of 2 20-something young people, American high school students will drink alcohol if they really want to, irregardless of what the law or their parents say. They are able to obtain it anyway, just because it’s not legal til they are 21 and some of the parents even heartily provide it for them. I am a teetotaler and during my kids’ teenage years and didn’t allow alcohol in the house, yet even that didn’t stop them from getting it. I don’t think the behavior can be limited to just Americans, as I watched a movie with my daughter, about a group of European high school graduates in Barcelona. They showed this exact behavior in the movie amongst these young people, no Americans in sight. I do think it is shameful what the young people are doing to Florence and hope that a remedy is in sight in the future.

  21. This is why whenever I travel I try and set a good example with being from the U.S because of Americans who come across as rude and doing stupid things. Not everyone is like that yet we tend to get clumped into the same category because of where we are from. At least I know when I leave a place, I have hopefully made others see not everyone acts the same. I love traveling and feel you need to treat the places you visit as if you were home. I know I wouldn’t treat places I visit this way but would treat every place I see and visit with care. I am so sorry others can’t see things the same way.

  22. I think they should not even bother going to Italy ,, if that is how they are going to behave and be disgusting .. As the above comment says, It is a few hundred sloppy drunks, who know they cannot drink at home (USA) ,, and go crazy , BUT what about the Brits that can drink in the UK and then go away and act in a most disgusting manner ,, and that is Females too,,, they are beyond and so disgusting. Why do they think is is ok ,, because in the States if they got caught doing anything the law will come down on them … STAY Away ,,

  23. I live near Piazza d’Azeglio and the number of drunken, obnoxcious americans (not only, but mostly) is astounding… and *I* am an American… tonight (in the US for the holidays), I purchased a cocktail “to go” and was told that no way in heck were they going to let me take the drink out of the establishment (but, he added, had I just mentioned I wanted an empty cup for water…). Clearly, there is a problem in the way the American society (mis)educates it’s youth, who are, for the most part, quite misguided (ie without guidance). They are absurdly strict here (and I am 45!!) and utterly careless abroad… i agree with the author, it is embarassing, and I too shy away from americans in Florence.

  24. After reading your article and a few others on the same subject I wrote this on museum etiquette-bhttp://capturinglavita.com/top-25-museum-etiquette-rules-dont-ever-tour-again-without-them/

    So embarrassed.

  25. It has definitely gotten worse. I lived in Florence in 1985 on a study abroad program and did not see this kind of behavior. The Americans on my program were decently well-behaved overall. There were a few times some of them drank too much but it was definitely not to the same extent.

    I lived there again in 2003/2004 and people were just starting to complain about the fact that young Americans had turned the Santa Croce quarter into a nightly frat party. When I was seeking housing I was advised not to live in that quarter because it was too noisy (due to the American students.) I am sad to hear that it’s only become worse.

    Perhaps the escalation in bad behavior and drinking is simply because more and more young Americans go there each year– and perhaps that’s combined with some kind of lapse in up-bringing. And yes, the fact that Americans ‘can’t drink’ until 21 definitely factors in. This lack of respect for a historic treasure such as Florence is appalling and I hope that the behavior of these “cretini” to use an Italian word, will not spill over into how we all are viewed when we go there.

  26. I’ve been suggesting for years that American Univerity programs in Florence should insist on European university-style mensas for their students, where they eat together Italian food and have wine with the meals. Instead of walking into wine shops, buying bottles of wine, having the shopkeeper draw the corks for them for lack of their own corkscrew, in the middle of the day (often teenage American coeds do this), and then boozing without eating, getting sloppy drunk, leaving broken glass in the streets. They drink whole bottles on an empty stomach. An Italian would drink a glass with food.

  27. Dear Ann,

    I wrote that Florence which hosts thousands of students from all over the world does not offer much to young people period whether they be from Prato, Philadelphia or Porto (no booze pun intended). This is part of a larger discussion about the lack of public services and facilities. In a city where almost 15% of the population are students I think you would agree little attention is given to them or the schools that service them. I of course include UNIFI as well as multiple Italian and other international institutions.

    Everyone wants this “business” but no one wants to provide the services and resources necessary. One of the main points here is that many people who study abroad don’t give a rat’s ass about the country or city that they are studying in. There is a lot of complicity here – the host university and school as well as the sending school (which also profits) as well as parents, peers and the students – not to mention a host of other businesses that profit from the students.

    We should not compare students from 20 years ago . those days are long gone. Back in olden days this was not an industry and people actually studied language. Now its a lot of garbage about cultural competencies and so-called “internships”. In the past students came often based on personal drive – now it is a rite of passage and like all things American it has to be nicely packaged and comes with a healthy dose of loud boozy behavior. I don’t dispute it and I cannot stand it – however there is a lot more to this issue then this che orrore – americani di m**da / ignoranti etc..sentiments that are thinly veiled. If you talked about any other group this way people would say it was racism – and that is what it is – categorizing and labelling the many based on the actions of the few.

    Santa Croce taken over by Americans? So I suppose they opened all the bars and clubs that cater to them. These students are targeted and marketed to from before their departure from the US? Local bars and clubs ply them with cheap drinks and now that there are 24 hour liquor stores it is a free for all.

    Again, the city and the schools let this happen – there is no impediment. The police? when was the last time you saw a cop in Florence? Even if a student gets in trouble the schools cannot discipline as that’s bad for business – and then the student might sue as well. We see lots of bad behavior such as this on the part of multiple nationalities- this is also about a city that is abandoned to tourism.

    Regarding respecting heritage – that also has to be earned. How easy it is to forget late March and April when the gita scolastica are in season and the maestre italiane from near and far bring their little darlings to Florence for a good dose of “culture” and maybe get some good knock-off GUcci bags or even a trip to the Prada outlet?? Talk is cheap – museums and sites are Disney-esque – hordes of the unwashed masses being paraded about Florence from their floating Costa Concordias. There is no economic / cultural policy in place – and that’s not just Florence that is the whole country.

  28. I was born in Naples and live in the center of Rome, as I work as a political consultant in the lower house of Italian Parliament. I know hundreds of Americans respecting and loving Italy, but I can refer also that it is sadly true that sexual, drinking (and so on, I’m afraid) habits of US youngsters are very similar to what is well written in this post, when they live here in Rome. I just hope that Italian and American institutions could work together in order to avoid these problems.

  29. I think that you should know, as a counterbalance to this “ugly Americans drinking in Firenze” post, that there are meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous–in English–at St. James
    Episcopal Church–a few blocks from Santa Maria Novella Train Station (and of course, church).
    While I lived in Italy for a year and a half, this meeting helped me stay sober and sane–and NOT be an UGLY American 🙂
    Again, a counterpoint would be “refreshing”.
    Thank you,
    K.H., Alcoholic AND American

  30. Dear K.H.,
    I have heard that there is a wonderful and helpful AA group that meets at St. James, the American Church, (Address: Via Bernardo Rucellai, 9, 50123 Florence, Italy
    Phone:+39 055 210617), and I’m glad you brought this to my notice again. The issues raised by my post don’t seem to be answered by AA, but one can always have hope.
    Thank you for your comment and observations.

  31. They are genuinely appalling, no consideration for culture or tradition, just trying to impose their own superficial values on others. Just go.

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