“How would you like to see Rome?” my biology teacher asked one day. By the end of the class, he had described the trip he was planning for the summer of 2007: a nine day adventure to Italy and I was sold. I had always dreamed of going to Italy, it was on the top of my list of places to see in the world. That night I asked my dad about it, and to my surprise his first reaction was “how much is the deposit?”
So in May 2007, I set off on my first grand adventure. For a year I looked forward to and planned for this trip, for it was significant in more ways than one. I had never been out of the country. I hadn’t flown on a plane since I was a small child and I didn’t remember that experience at all. But there was more to this trip then these simple things; they just barely touched the surface. I was fascinated with Italy. As a Latin student, I knew the historical significance of Italy whether it was the language, the ancient Romans or artists such as Michelangelo. As a member of a Catholic family, Italy is the heart of the Catholic Church. As a descendent of Italian immigrants I was excited to see the land of my heritage, to see where I had come from.
The nine days we spent on this trip was everything I expected it to be and more. From our early morning departure out of Orlando International Airport, I was excited and more than ready for the experience. My father paced around the airport, my mother talked nervously with other parents – but the forty five travelers were bouncy and ready to go. By the end of our first flight, I was in love with flying. The six hour flight across the Atlantic was thrilling to me; I barely slept on the plane and instead constantly leaned over my friend in the seat beside me trying to look out the window at the miles of ocean below.
Italy itself was mind-blowing. In the seven days that we weren’t traveling back and forth, I saw and experienced so many things. I rode a gondola in Venice and wandered through the tiny, labyrinth-like streets. I called “Oh Romeo, Romeo” to Juliet’s balcony in Verona and took pictures of my friends and I ‘holding up’ the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I marveled at Michelangelo’s David in Florence and climbed the steep main-street of Assisi to see the cathedral dedicated to one of the most popular saints, St. Francis. I even wandered the streets of Rome, climbing the steps of the Colosseum and gazing in awe at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.
Even in the quieter moments of the trip, away from the famous destinations and the hordes of international tourists, everything was a learning experience. My friends and I practically got lost and had to derive directions across the language barrier. We hauled our suitcases up four flights of stairs in a small hotel because the elevator was too small and learned proper manners and how to behave in a culture different from our own. I realized that there was so much to see in the world and so many people to meet. I can honestly say this trip inspired my love of travel and of different cultures, and I hope this experience was an omen of what is to come in my life.
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