I believe that humanity in Italy is full of something America is missing: love and peace. These moral traits contribute other characteristics that reflect outwardly in people. Characteristics such as: hospitality, friendliness, happiness, and patience. As I, and many others have ventured to this foreign land, we often grasp the same vibe per individual experience.
Anxiety of this trip had overwhelmed my very persona for months. I wanted to get everything I could out of it. With moments blowing by like a blustery autumn day, my thoughts began to fly through my mind like crispy, colored leaves. I began to question how I could make the most of this Italian experience.
The first day was filled with places, yet to be explored. Our first stop was Venice. I had narrated the day’s activities and major sights to my friends, Aly and Amanda. Battling with my emotions and all the opposite entering contradictions racing to my head, I gathered myself together. I stepped off the bus and onto the ferry transporting us to Venice. My journey had just begun. I immediately breathed in the salty Mediterranean air and sensed the rushing water mingling with the glorious sound of laughter.
Chatter begins between us friends as an older lady approached our bench. She sat down and carried on a conversation with her grandson. She glanced over at us and chimed in after Aly voiced, “Do they [Italians] like Americans?”
“Well many Italians love the touristic atmosphere and attention, but often feel that Americans are unfriendly because their customs vary.” She stated.
She replied, “Well Italians are extremely friendly, hospitable, people. We talk to EVERYONE! It’s polite to go into a store and greet one another with “¡Buongiorno!” which means hello. Also, before you leave, even if you don’t purchase anything, say “¡Arrivederci!” Let the vendors help you. In return, they will respect you and the fact that you studied the language and culture.” We thanked her and waved good-bye as the ferry breached.
Our tour guide Romeo, a fashionable and funny man, showed us a few minor attractions of Venice. We put our headphones in and listened to him navigate. He led us through many streets and ally ways. We observed St. Marks Square the Doge’s Palace and witnessed gondola drivers singing and calling out, advertising boat rides. Walking by, we saw numerous compacted vendor shops filled with merchandise.
Finally, Romeo gave us permission to explore. The three of us wandered away to do what girls do best- SHOP! We strolled down the mysterious streets passing by shops filled with trinkets, souvenirs, and Venetian masks. We cautioned each other to express our newfound Italian cultural knowledge. We enjoyed conversing with them and taking interest in their lives, as they did ours. Every store was a new adventure of excitement. Some were scary, and awkward. Others were fun and beneficial.
In the end, the overflow of hospitality and welcome I received by the simplicity of learning the Italian culture was truly gratifying. Sharing this experience with my best friends reminded me of the community we are a part of at home. I longed to bring this happiness and fulfillment of fellowship back to the states. This journey changed my attitude toward people. I believe community is a greater expression of our inner character, glittered with the essence of love and unity. Maybe one day you will know what it is like to experience this level of community. For now, I challenge you to expand your social horizons and reflect kindness unto your fellow peers. ¡Arrivederci!
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