‘Twas the night before I was set to leave on my first European vacation, a two week trip to Italy. My bags were packed, my camera charged, and my passport updated. I was sixteen and expecting the trip of a lifetime with my loving parents. However, before the trip had even begun, I made a terrible mistake. In a vain effort at hair removal, I didn’t read the fine print on the Nair bottle, applying the product to my underarms. What had left my legs smooth and hair-free had transformed the sensitive skin on my armpits into a red, blotchy, itchy, and painful mess. My mother consoled me with the fact that “at least it’s not the night before your wedding.”
Determined to maintain positivity, I boarded the plane the next day sans deodorant and slightly uncomfortable. Eight hours later, our Air Berlin flight landed for a layover in Dusseldorf, Germany, from which it was a quick flight to Venice, Italy. As our boat approached the city, I couldn’t believe I had made it all the way across the pond to a place that seemed simply magical. When compared to my relatively sheltered life in Connecticut, Italy was quite the culture shock.
Venice was absolutely beautiful and by far my favorite stop on the trip. It was like stepping back in time, with the ancient and intricate architecture, the Murano glass factory, and the endless stream of gondolas gliding by. It was here that I had my first glass of red wine. The jet lag and excitement combined with wine led to the mother of all headaches, yet even I, by no means a connoisseur, could taste the difference between the locally made wine and the garbage I’d been allowed to sip at Thanksgiving.
Everyone around me seemed so laidback, walking slowly alongside the canals as if they had nowhere to be. Stressed after a rigorous year of school, I was determined to emulate their relaxed and content state of being. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, which was fitting, seeing as Rome was our next stop. The train there itself was an experience, watching sky-high mountains, vineyards, and cute villages pass by.
Rome was the Italian equivalent of New York City. It was crowded with cars and people, yet it still maintained the laidback charm that I’d come to love about Italy. The Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, which I’d only seen in movies, were even more magnificent in person. Here I was, a sixteen-year-old girl who’d never left the east coast, standing under the work of one of the most well-known artists in the world. I was finally beginning to understand how small my own world was as I looked at the elaborately painted ceiling.
My family and I spent the next week in an apartment in Praiano, a small town on the Amalfi Coast. The water was the brightest blue I’d ever seen, the roads so winding I feared our bus would veer off the edge, and the 123 steps to our apartment the steepest I’d ever encountered. We made day trips to Pompeii and Capri, shopped in nearby Positano, bought our food at the markets, and even attended mass with the locals on Sunday. Before we left, I vowed that I would move to Italy and live contently in a small village on the coast, appreciating the beauty of daily life and eating my weight in gelato. Travelling, especially an Italian adventure, leaves one with an overwhelming urge to change their lifestyle. For now, I remain in Connecticut, at least until my next trip.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.