June 18, 2008; the only thought consuming my mind was the fact that in less than twenty-four hours I would be flying with American Airlines for fourteen hours to Italy, carrying my Trafalgar travelling bag and pink pillow next to my parents and sister. When the moment finally came, and our plane landed in the Rome airport, I couldn’t believe it. I was actually in Italy, home of the Leonardos (da Vinci & Dicaprio) and tortellini. I was in amazement, seeing how different Rome was compared to America, with tiny zooming cars and pretty building so close together. But, on my first tour bus ride, I was also noticing that while Rome was obviously different, it was also very similar. In both Italy and America, or in any country for that matter, people were living their busy lives, walking down familiar streets and seeing familiar faces, sharing comparable worries, memories, and laughs.
The first night at our temporary home, we met the people who we would be with for the next ten days, and I was happy to see that we were a varied bunch. As the days went on and we spent hours in museums, factories, and gelato shops (which we visited daily), we started to learn things about each other. And Romano, our tour guide, would tell us about himself, born on his kitchen table and raised in Naples. Speaking of which, we visited Naples, as well as Florence, Rome, Venice, Burano, the island of Capri, Assisi, Verona, Stressa, Pompeii, and Sorrento. Burano and Assisi were my favorite towns to visit. Burano was right near Venice, so we had to get there by gondola, which was a very fun ride filled with singing and sightseeing. Burano was a very picturesque place, with many buildings close together, and each one painted a beautiful bright color. People there knew their way around partly by knowing what color the buildings were, and walking down the streets was like a walk down a rainbow. Assisi was a small town on a hill, where the Basilica of San Francesco was built. Verona is known for being the origin of Shakespeare’s version of Romeo and Juliet, and we even got to see the actual balcony where the famous scene took place. The island of Capri has a funny history; it got its name because the residents were the first to ever wear capri pants. It is surrounded by clear blue water and hidden caves within the rock walls. In Stressa, there was a huge castle on an island that was owned by a very wealthy Italian family, but they only resided there a few months a year, and the rest of the time was a museum. Pompeii was a very interesting place to visit, because there were people, animals, and whole buildings that were almost frozen in place by the cooled ashes from the volcanic explosion that took place centuries ago. But the things that astonished me the most were the museums in Rome and Florence, filled with beautiful artwork by people like Giovanni dal Ponte, Francesco Francia, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo.
This amazing trip to Italy brought out the deep observer in me; it greatly opened my eyes to how much countries differ, from the people and customs to the practiced ways of life. Italy was filled with friendly town squares bustling with people at 10:00 PM, who took pride in everything they did, and who enjoyed a delicious plate of tortellini on a daily basis.
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