My father is an enthusiastic art teacher, always ready to share his skill and introduce people to the beauty that is art. In 2009, he sent in a proposal for a Lilly Endowment Teacher Renewal Grant. His proposal was accepted, thus allowing him the ability to take my sister and I to Italy so that we may become more artistically and culturally aware. Not only was I given the opportunity to experience a different part of the world, but also to grow closer to my family through an extended amount of time together.
The first city that my family traveled to was Rome. Despite the lack of sleep due to excitement, my family and I set off to explore the Roman Coliseum and Forum. The Coliseum, though partially in ruin, was a beautiful reminder of a world long ago. Although it was hot outside, the colossal structure overwhelmed any other thoughts. To be able to walk around in such a historically rich environment was truly a privilege. The Forum focused heavily on the areas frequented by the noble men and women of ancient Rome. That night, we arrived at Hotel Oceania; a simple hotel recognized for its traditional Italian decor. The next day, my family traveled to Vatican City. Upon our arrival, I felt as if I had arrived at my religious Mecca. Exploring St. Peter’s Basilica, I was enthralled by not only the sheer size of the building, but also by the art that has been preserved for centuries.
My family then traveled to Sienna to further enjoy the Italian culture. We stayed in Hotel Alma Domus; a monastery turned hotel. The goal of spending time there was to observe the Italian culture, and to enjoy each other’s company. As we enjoyed a small cup of gelato in the Piazza del Campo, I observed people entering The Chapel of the Virgin. Out of curiosity, we entered to see what was happening. In the courtyard of the chapel, there was a group of high school students performing and conducting a variety of songs. I was amazed at what accomplished musicians they were, despite their age. Because of this happy accident, my family and I decided to spend the remainder of our evening listening to the musicians.
After Sienna, my family traveled to Florence, where we stayed in the Albergo Firenza. We were fortunate enough to visit the Duomo and the Uffizi. The massive design of the Duomo accompanied by the beautiful art in the Uffizi made the whole trip worthwhile. The city itself was very metropolitan while still possessing its own unique personality. We climbed to the top of a large hill to the Piazzale Michelangelo, where we were able to see all of Florence. The sight was truly breathtaking. I watched as all the people down in the city were carrying out their lives, and wondered if they appreciated the beauty of Florence that surrounds them every day. I realized that I, too, have beauty in my life that I often take for granted. I realized that I need to take advantage of and appreciate all the parts of my hometown that make it special.
I feel truly blessed to have been able to go across the world in order to experience a different culture. The food, art and lifestyle of Italy have permanently affected me in a positive manner. Being given this opportunity, I can better recognize and appreciate the beauty of many things in my own surroundings, and am now more careful not to take them for granted.
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