An Armenian in Italy

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Before heading back to America (sniff sniff, but I’ll be back very soon!!) my cousin suggested we take a trip to Italy since neither of us had ever been. Leave it to me to be hesitant to part from Armenia for a week, but I couldn’t miss the chance to experience the sensory overload that is Italia. Since I’ve been living in Yerevan for the last 5 months, I couldn’t help but tell people I’m from Armenia (versus America), and to compare it to Italy.

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In many ways they’re vastly different, but in terms of the obsession with food, and the emphasis on religion and the abundance of churches, they’re very much alike. And of course, I serendipitously ended up seeing a friend from Yerevan who lives in Florence; all because another group of friends who were also in town randomly met him while sitting on the steps of a church one afternoon. It was like having a little piece of Armenia in Italy.

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Before I head back to Armenia in a couple days, I decided to make a list of how Armenia and Italy are both alike and different. Here it is:

Churches: Both places have a lot, a lot of them. Everywhere you turn. But Italy’s cathedrals are way more ornate and over the top.

Food: Sure, Italy is known for its pizzas and pastas and tiramisu, and they’re damn good at it (my ultimate favorite restaurant was Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco in Florence) but I actually think Armenia might have more of a variety in fare (Italian, Lebanese, Persian, Indian, etc). Of course Italy has non-Italian spots too, but as a tourist you’re mainly encouraged to eat authentic Italian. And don’t even bother ordering a salad or trying to be “healthy,”  you will be totally underwhelmed.

Plazas: Armenia has a few squares, Hraparak being the largest, but Italy takes the cake in this category. There’s a piazza this and a piazza that every few steps it seems. My favorite is Piazza della Repubblica in Florence because it has the most charming merry-go-round.

Service: Believe it or not, I have experienced better service in Yerevan this time around. Nowadays, as soon as your Coke is done or your ashtray has a few ashes, they hop to it. To the point where you almost think it’s too fast. Not all the places we’ve gone, but generally in Italy it has taken a while before the waiters approach your table and bring the check. It reminded me of how Armenia was a few years ago.

Transportation: Hands down there are way more taxis in Yerevan. More than regular cars. In Italy you have to call a taxi versus hailing one, which can naturally take longer. But the train system in Italy and Europe is incomparable.

Aesthetics: There’s no denying that Italy is a more visually stunning country. It has so many intricacies and details to behold. Even the people are sharper dressed. I can’t speak for their niceness in comparison to Armenians since I don’t speak the native language, but generally both are hospitable.

We’re off to explore San Lazzaro, the Armenian island in Venice tomorrow, so stay tuned!

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