As much as I love Italy -- and Florence in particular -- it can be ... difficult. Culturally, there are differences that are hard to understand unless you've actually experienced them. For Americans, and even more so for Germans -- heaven help the Germans -- a singular disconnect is the concept of a line. In the States you form one and wait your turn. Sure, it may move slowly due to the incompetence of the server/bureaucrat or the customers ahead of you. And you may well curse a bit under your breath or cop an overtly impatient attitude, but, by god, you wait your turn or you spin on your heels and make a theatrical exit.
In Italy, there are no lines, only scrums -- rugged, anarchic scrums. And as a foreigner new to the country, you don't even realize you're in one -- at least at first. You queue up; you wait a bit; you wait a bit longer; then it dawns on you: you're farther away from being served then when you got in "line" in the first place. On the bright side, you have a better view of things because you've somehow been passed by four or five little, old Italian nonnas, who, if stacked one on top of the other, would fall well short of reaching the ceiling. It's only after about three of these experiences that you realize: you've got to fight for it.
But fighting isn’t enough. When you’re new and submissive, Italians will pass you with a hint of a smile. A hint that says, “I’m going to pass this idiot and make him like it.” When you decide to fight back, a hockey game breaks out. Suddenly, you’re backchecking an octogenarian who would fit comfortably under your armpit. You begin to feel bad, but then you also begin to feel an elbow boring into your rib cage. So, not only do you have to fight, you have to forget everything you've learned about good manners. Finally after multiple visits here -- I’m embarrassed to say -- I lost it. I submit the following, captured by a security camera, without further comment. I'm on the left.