My family of six had been talking about traveling to Europe for years. It didn’t happen until just recently. During the summer of 2011, I went on a family vacation to Italy. We traveled to seven different cities in Italy in a span of two weeks. It was an amazing opportunity to both have fun and learn about another culture.
There are many cultural differences that I encountered while on vacation. One of these was transportation. In Arizona, I drive a car everywhere. In Italy, however, I relied on public transportation. Many Italians have cars, but the roads were narrow and parking was scarce. For our trip, my family used the trains, buses, and a lot of walking to get to our destinations. Since there were few parking spaces to use, Italians are great at parking in tight spaces or making spaces. In Milan, it was difficult to walk on the sidewalks because cars parked there. In Florence, my family and I sat on our balcony and watched people park. Even with the small roads, the Italians could parallel park inches away from each other.
As Americans, transportation in Italy had its challenges. While in the United States, there are crosswalks and pedestrians have the right of way, it is completely different in Naples. People in Naples decide to cross the street whenever they want and assume the cars will stop. My family and I had difficulties adjusting. We feared what would happen if the cars didn’t stop. We stood on the sidewalk waiting for an opening in traffic, but since there are so many cars, openings never presented themselves. On one occasion we followed an elderly woman across the street so she would stop the traffic for us. On another, a dog had wandered into the street so, as the cars stopped, we were able to cross as well.
Another difference I observed in Italy was the architecture. The buildings were much older. Italians aren’t as worried about efficiency as much as beauty. They preserve their buildings as they age instead of modernizing. I gained a greater appreciation for history. Most of the buildings in Italy are at least one hundred years old. Almost everything in Arizona is new. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it would be nice to have old structures to bring more beauty into our cities. One city my family and I visited was Pompeii. Most of the city was preserved for thousands of years. While walking through Pompeii, many houses were still standing. I personally have not seen or been part of any natural disaster so this was a new experience for me. A couple of molds of citizens from the city of Pompeii were shown. They were in the positions they had been when the lava overcame them. I can now better understand the devastations felt in places such as New Orleans and Japan.
There was a housing situation that we encountered that lead to bugs, a ton of walking, and three different apartments or hotels before we finally found a clean, appropriate place to stay in Rome. Unfortunately, it did cost us much more than we had anticipated, but we learned that you pay for what you get. What you put in is what you get out.
From this vacation I gained a newfound appreciation for other cultures. I learned to appreciate and explore other cultures. It was a bit frightening at times, but it was a great chance to travel around a foreign country. I realized how fun it is to learn about and compare different cultures of the world.
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