My Trip to Italy 2008 - My Family Travels

The summer of 2008 was life changing as I finally had the opportunity to experience my cultural heritage first hand.  I grew up learning about where my mother’s family originated:the battle sites of the Peloponnesian Wars, the Magna Grecia, as well as the great architectural ruins are all part of my background.At age 16, I arrived into the city of Crotone, Italy, ready to immerse myself in the world of my ancestors.

I must admit, witnessing history is much more influential than reading about it in a textbook.  As my cousin drove through the busy, winding streets of Crotone, everywhere there were banners saying, “La citta di Pittagora,” “The city of Pythagoras.” The Ionian Sea to my left is as blue and clear as the sky.  A Greek landmark approaches from afar and it is the Temple of Hera.  Every inch of this tiny part of the world is filled with history.   We finally arrive to Capopiccolo, a small village on the beach where my aunt lives.

Unlike ocean beaches, the Ionian Sea is usually calm and flat, different than I had read about in books.At night time, most teenagers go to the ampitheater to watch a play, dance or comedy show.  This ampitheater, built by the Greeks thousands of years ago, is set high on a cliff giving it perfect acoustics.No need for microphones or any sound enhancing devices.I always knew my ancestors were superb architects, but seeing and experiencing their creations in real life was spellbinding.  To think I might have that same architectural talent rushing through my bloodstream!

Yearning to soak up more about the areas from where my family descended, we took a trip to Sicily! Since Italy is a very small country, I was shocked to find out we were going to take a ferry to Sicily. Standing at the edge of the boot, I could actually see the tiny piece of land.If not for the dangerous currents, Sicily was within swimming distance.The ferry ride was better though, complete with yummy Sicilian snacks called “arrancini,” rice cakes filled with prosciutto, cheese and sauce. We sailed for only about 15 minutes.I am used to two hour car drives to get to another city living in Arizona, so it was delightful to travel such a short time and arrive at an entirely different location.

Time flew in Italy.As I boarded the flight home, I felt I was leaving a piece of myself behind even though I also felt like I knew myself better. I relived firsthand the amazing talent of my ancestors, something I will always struggle to live up to.Books and stories can only take a person so far into the past.We all need the chance to experience the proof that we come from something bigger and greater than ourselves.Only when we truly understand our heritage can we understand ourselves.

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