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Is Italy Ready for a Culture Make-Over?

This past weekend, us current Florence residents were pleasantly (or maybe not so pleasantly) intrigued to hear that as of early 2011, Florence will be welcoming it’s very own Hard Rock Cafe. The Hard Rock has already found a home in both Rome and Venice but this change is something that I discussed with my Italian friends over the summer and it seems the right time to address it further.

Italy is a western country, a well-developed economy and one of the most famous travel destinations in the world. They can pull their own in the business, fashion and technological world. Italy is also a proud country. They have their own age-old traditions and their own way of doing things.

The world is forever changing, developing, learning new trends and becoming more ‘user-friendly’, for lack of a better term. I’m from Seattle, the infamous home of Starbucks coffee company; I can travel a million miles away and enjoy the very same latte in China that I would in Starbucks’ flagship. I exit the bus on the way home from work and walk right into the welcoming arms of the Golden Arches, no matter where I am.

Regardless of the fact that I can get a latte in Shanghai, Sydney, or Seattle, I can’t get it in Florence. I can’t get it anywhere in Italy, as a matter of fact. Christmas season is coming and I have spent the last few years of Christmas wondering between huge department stores and through the festively-decorated Pike Place Market, clutching my close companion; my red, paper Starbucks Christmas Cup filled with some Christmas-y goodness. I’m starting to write home with my concerns of being Christmas Cup-less this year, and planning my shopping trip to London in order to supplement it.

This summer, I traveled for almost three weeks through Spain and Portugal with three Italian companions. We spent a lot of time between Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks reviving ourselves for sight-seeing with cold and creamy iced lattes. We disguised Starbucks and the culture it seems to have created in the world. We talked about it’s absence in Italy and I watched as my travel mates were eager and completely satisfied with each and every stop we made for yet another iced coffee.

Italy is proud of it’s tasty espresso and the coffee culture they have created around it. One that many of us from countries laden with Starbucks-style cafés can’t seem to settle with. We have created a homey comfort in the idea of cafés, where a day spent reading, chatting, drinking or studying, is a day well spent. It makes me anxious and uncomfortable to have to stand at the bar and take my espresso shot, because what’s the comfort in a coffee so tiny that it doesn’t even take two sips to finish?

As I walk past McDonalds and see it teeming with Italians, I wonder what exactly it is that they have against letting non-Italian chains become a part of their culture. You will be hard-pressed to find much of anything familiar here in Italy.

With the introduction of Hard Rock Cafe in Florence, I’ll be interested to see if I can even get a table before next Christmas.

Now it’s your turn fellow foreigners, what are your thoughts on the introduction of these places into Italy? Is it a testimony to losing their culture or are they ready? What about other countries, have they lost their culture because they enjoy a large cup of coffee or a cheeseburger?

Published October 25th, 2010 by Annie
Posted to Wayward Traveller

1 Comment


I don't know about you but I would MUCH rather have a hard rock cafe ( good burgers and nachos ) than a Ben & Jerrys, which to me seems like a pretty lame decision in the land of gelato. I totally agree that Italia is pretty anti- other cultures foods, at the same time I don't want to see Florence like some European cities full of burger king, subway, mcdonalds etc etc.. it takes away from the charm. I think it won't kill Florence ( especially with its abundance of kebab shops and other international food ) to have a starbucks and a hard rock. italians enjoy it too..

yeah lets go to hard rock when it opens ;) , just to "try" of course! ;)

Posted October 26th, 2010

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