I suppose the astounding amount of pasta and gelato I ate over the course my 3 week trip would be enough to soften just about anyone. But in all seriousness, the impact Italy has had on me stretches well beyond my waistline. I’m a city girl and I travel on my toes; I always have my hand on my purse. I talked a little bit in one of my very first blog posts about being defensive pessimist. I tend to assume the worst- so I’m able to better prepare. Before I left, people gave me a lot of well-intentioned warnings, about Rome, about Gypsies, about Italian men. If anything, I found in Italy could let my guard down more than usual. We arrived in a new country not speaking the language and almost everywhere we went, especially in northern Italy, which is a little less touristy, people were so kind to us.
(Since you seen so many of my photos, instead of rehashing them I thought I’d include some of the outtakes in this post.)
There was the shopkeeper from Bra, who talked to me about cheese gave me some of the best parmesan I’ve ever had for free. There was the tobacconist in Barolo, who patiently pantomimed how to find a cab (no small feat). The guy in Milan who offered to help me with my bag, not at a crowded station, but a subway stop before this great lunch and really seemed not to expect anything in return. There was the time the conductor explained my train to Venice had been “erased” and I had accidentally gotten on the wrong one (well, the right train since it was going to Venice, just not my train, it was an earlier one that had been delayed) and then told me not to worry about it. There were all of my Airbnb hosts who I owe a huge thank you to (the picture below is of the cards I made to hand out along the the way). They took time out of their days to give me advice about their cities and even show me around. I was little overwhelmed figuring out how to get to Lake Garda and it was my host suggested I should take the boat to Sirmione. My Florence host welcomed me with a lovely chat and showed me around (including her favorite gelato spot!). It was at her suggestion we checked out Piazza Michelangelo (the crazy awesome view pictures with the sandwich shop).
There were all of the people who helped us along our way on our very first night in Italy. In America we cultivate a faux friendliness but it’s often hollow, or chivalry that borders on chauvinism. Especially in Rome and Venice, there were definitely people out to rip us off, but they were the exception. For me, the attitude of so many of the wonderful people helped make my perspective just a little rosier.
Then again, I suppose I became infatuated with place as much the people. I felt like I was surrounded by so much beauty and vibrancy. Wandering around places like Cinque Terre and Rome and Verona is overwhelming in the best way. Every door, every church, every river. Each place felt distinct. Milan open and clean, Venice filled with it’s winding allies.
And then of course, there was the food. I came looking for pedestrian food at its best and I certainly found it. There were so many tiny shops of the sort that seem to have gone extinct in the U.S. They feel more personal somehow. There were the amazing delis, and superb pasta joints and endless scoops of velvety gelato.
In the real world I spend a lot of time in my head, working on assignments and making sure the rent gets paid. I become fixated on small tasks. Spending so much time exploring new places, and walking around outside listening to great books, and seeing revolutionary art, and historical monuments, and eating great fresh food, all did me a lot of good. I return to the states a happier person for all I’ve seen and experienced, all the more eager to return.
I’m sharing this post with some of the cool people over at Fiesta Friday http://fiestafriday.net/