“Fare casino.” It’s an idiomatic Italian phrase that doesn’t have a straight English translation; it literally means “to make a brothel,” but could be translated as “uncontrolled confusion” or “to make a mess of things.” Or it really could just mean “party hard.” Do all these phrases remind you of anything?
As MTV’s Jersey Shore makes its long-anticipated, slightly delayed, reportedly controversial arrival in Florence, Italy, it shouldn’t be surprising that almost every Florentine local we interviewed for this story used the expression fare casino when describing their worries about the U.S. reality hit. “The general feeling towards Jersey Shore being in Florence is excitement that they’re shooting here, but also a bit of unease,” says Dasha Savage, an American college student studying abroad who served as my eyes and ears (and translator) in Florence. “I heard many older Italians express opinions of disgust for having these people come to their city.”
To get a sense of what the target MTV demographic thinks of the Jersey Shore‘s Italian invasion, we took to Palazzo Giovane, a hangout spot for young Florentine schoolkids. There the local students expressed a mixture of disgust and anticipation.
Gioda Mecacci, a 15-year-old, says hard partiers certainly exist in Florence, but, she says, “The confusion they create isn’t as bad as what the Jersey Shore cast would create.” Carlotta Casparri, 14, adds, “They bring a bad image because they use curse words and comport themselves in a bad way.”
“Actually, we say they’re gross,” says Mecacci (she used the word cafone, which also means “boorish, loutish, rude”).
So what about the night life? If you’re a fan of Jersey Shore, you’ve heard a lot about Bar Karma and Beachcombers (where Snooki famously got punched in the face). For season 4, expect to hear a lot about Space, Full Up, and Twice, the hot clubs in Florence.
Lauren Guidot, an English-as-a-foreign-language professor in Florence, says the clubbing scene in the city isn’t all that different from the one in Seaside Heights. “I don’t remember the statistics exactly, but thousands and thousands of American college students are here every year to study abroad,” she says. “Bars are open every night, usually until about 4 a.m. Italians definitely like to party, but in general they don’t seem to binge-drink quite like the American students. Perhaps because the drinking age isn’t strongly enforced like it is in the States.”
But what about the mayor’s decision to impose restrictions on the show’s filming permissions? “They should do it like they did in America,” says Vendyl Sakalli, 15, noting that the cast members aren’t all that different from kids like himself. “People like me drink and go to the pub and things like that.”
Don’t expect an uproar over the term “guido,” either, like there was in the U.S. when the first season premiered. According to Savage, none of the Italian locals interviewed for this post had even heard the term “guido” as a derogatory term for an Italian-American, and none of them were offended.
Guidot (her last name is purely coincidental) agrees. “‘Guido’ does not have any meaning here in Italy,” she says. “It actually is a first name, although not very common. Italians have heard that the word is used but question why it’s derogatory.”
In fact, not all Italians seem to even realize that the Jersey Shore cast members are Italian-American (not all of them are), or portray a certain stereotype of Italian-American culture, according to Savage. One girl who enthusiastically and frequently interrupted one of our interviews exclaimed in realization, “Ah, they’re Italian-Americans!” despite having apparent knowledge of the show. “They [see] it more as a show about Americans than about Italian-Americans,” Savage explains.
Still, there is palpable excitement as Jersey Shore begins shooting. The young Italian viewers already have their favorites. Angela Sardelli, 14, says, “Viva Ronnie!” Mecacci, who only moments earlier labeled the cast “gross,” also cheers on her boy — “Forza Ronnie!”
Her friend shrieked, “No — forza Vinnie! And forza Snooki!”