I was hoping, during my month in Florence this summer, to escape (however briefly) from America and its low-brow obsessions. To look at paintings rather than watch television. To have face-to-face conversations in a piazza rather than computer-mediated conversations over Facebook.
So when I learned that the cast of Jersey Shore would be here at the same time, I laughed. I had never seen an episode of the show, but I knew that it stood in opposition to the sophisticated life of Florence--the kind of life I wanted for at least a month.
The first time I saw the cast, I continued to eat my gelato as if nothing was happening. I listened with amusement as an American teenager tried to explain the significance of the show to an elderly Italian woman. “Jersey?” the woman said. “Jersey who?” Then came the Facebook messages on my wall: “Have you seen the cast yet?” “Make sure to take pictures!” And after Snooki’s car incident: “Can’t you get the Jersey Shore kids to behave?” (From my mom.) By the end of the month, I was posting entire photo albums of my run-ins with the cast. Sophisticated life? Well, there’s always next summer.