LYDIA'S BLOG: Diversity Diary No. 6

Mar 6, 2012


But my general fashion goal is blend in.

I'm not so good at that here, especially with a wardrobe that was limited by a suitcase. I'm an avid wearer of tennis shoes, which immediately singles me out in a sea of boots and heels.

I had gotten used to it though. But what I can't wrap my mind around is Italians' apparent obliviousness to the change in weather. Thursday reached 70 F — clearly not jacket weather, yet every Italian I passed was still wearing a pea coat or puffy coat. Most of them had scarves on.

A man passed me on a bike wearing a giant coat, thick gloves, a hat and a scarf wound tightly around his neck and face. I was in awe. I was in a T-shirt in 70-degree weather, yet I was the crazy one.

When I went to Viareggio, I decided to pull out my Chacos (also not the most fashionable footwear at all). I knew it was still a little cold for sandals, but only by a few degrees — and I'm usually warm anyway.

Sandals in March. Who cares? Well, clearly Italians care. As I walked onto the train, a group of people didn't even try to hide their opinions as they stared at my feet, turning their heads as I passed them.

"Yeah, that's right. Sandals. Take off your gloves, fools," I thought to myself, but soon tucked one foot under my other leg and that foot under Caitlin's seat across from me.

I continued to get similar looks from locals in Viareggio. One girl in particular gave me a rather nasty look as she sized me up on the boardwalk. What's it to you? I didn't get it.

And even though my feet were pretty cold after the sun went down, I had no regrets about my footwear.

Sunday, I saw a man in Billa wearing flip-flops. I paid close attention to see if he was American. He was without a doubt Italian. That immediately validated my shoe choice the previous day.

I'm marking this one as a victory for me and my Chacos.

Editor’s note: Former Grand Haven Tribune intern Lydia Coutré is spending a semester in Italy. She is a junior at Kent State University, studying journalism. Her blogs during her stay in Italy will be posted here and at All photos by Lydia Coutré.


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