I have an obsession with being a local. Wherever I travel, I want to blend in so well that I could be mistaken for a local. As you can imagine, that works well in some countries, and not at all in others! When I’m in Italy, it’s a little easier since I speak Italian and I lived there for a year and a half. I get a deep sense of gratification when others mistake me for an Italian (or a Brazilian when I’m living in Brazil) but there’s always a level of frustration.
I feel a little cramped. A little less free because I’m always wondering what others are thinking. If I “make the cut” or I’m just another lousy tourist.
Traveling in Italy for 3 weeks last month changed my perspective. I stayed in my adopted hometown of Firenze (Florence) for one week. I stayed in the apartment I used to live in when I studied and worked in Florence a few years ago. I did my “local thing.” Went grocery shopping. Visited my friends’ houses. Went to my favorite restaurants and coffee spots. This trip, I also had to do a few touristy things to take pictures for my travel company. I visited hotels and talk to them about what they offer for their clientele : tourists.
Some of these hotels had gorgeous views of the Duomo (famous church), adorable rooms, and lots of support and resources on how to enjoy the city.
I realized that there IS something wonderful about being a tourist. Tourists are here to enjoy the BEST that the city has to offer. They see the most beautiful sights and enjoy the uniqueness of the city. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing to experience life like the locals do. Living like a local you’ll probably eat better, but I think being a tourist is underrated. Tourists bring life and energy to the city, and sometimes tourists enjoy the city more than the locals do!
Being a local (or a wannabe local), you can miss out on some of the wonderful experiences because they are “touristy.” I know that’s true when I’m in San Francisco. I’ve only been based here for about a year now, but I’ve realized that I’m not taking time to enjoy the city I’m living in.
These days, I’m trying to visit more of the “touristy” areas. It’s actually kinda fun being a tourist.