Reflections on Italy

At last! Here is my final article on Italy, or it will be until I return again! It has been two years since my departure and a lot has happened since then, but I still continue to hold this experience near and dear to my heart. 

Us girls in Venice

So how did Italy compare? While Italy was not a dramatic culture shock or full of the most beautiful natural world, this trip held a lot of value for me personally. How I ended up meeting my host family alone was something out of a feel good movie, since finding your late mother’s penpal of over twenty years is not something that occurs every day. I was so grateful for all the support and aide they gave me during my stay and its easy to say I will never forget the connection I made with them. They are a second family to me and I love them dearly. As for the country itself, here are my biggest takeaways:

Taking in the view

Italy is the home of plenty phenomenal examples of architecture and showcases so many of the works of Palladio, who inspired much of the typical western architecture we see today. I felt that ever corner I turned down, there was yet another ornately detailed building. This is especially true for many of their cathedrals where art and architecture combine seamlessly. I felt the frescoes of Treviso or San Marco’s Basilica were some prime examples of this. 

San Marco’s Basilica

The food was also incredible and rich. I loved trying their numerous types of pasta and candy. I felt that there was such a strong connection between food and culture in Italy, which made it so much more enjoyable. I wish I had had the opportunity to try more of it (or at least bring home more than I did). 

I also loved the history in Italy. Here in the States we are often devoid of buildings from the medieval times, but in the Veneto region, they are so common. I loved looking at them and wondering if someone hundreds of years ago did the same exact things and what kind of life they lived. I also appreciated how well the new and old buildings mesh into a beautiful combination of modern and archaic. 

Old Palladio buildings

The culture is also so vibrant and fantastic. I was lucky enough to be there during some of the festivities and it was so great to experience the holidays. La Befana was a great experience that allowed me to take part in Christmas traditions without being flooded by other tourists like some celebrations, such as Carnevale in Venice. I also loved taking part in the dinner culture that plays such a huge role in many people’s day to day life. It was great to spend our mealtime together and conversing, even if it took several hours to do. There also weren’t nearly as many phones out at the dinner table as we see in the States or other places in the world. 

My host family

Was Italy better than any of my other trips? 

I can’t ever effectively compare all of my trips because they are all so different in nature. Italy held a personal reconnection with my mom and her friend that was very unique to that particular voyage and that alone is hard to beat. I wasn’t looking at the natural beauty of Peru or doing service in rural plains in Tanzania, but that didn’t mean the trip was any less important to me.

Canals in Venice

Did I like Italy? Would I recommend it?

I did love Italy, except for Venice. Venice receives a lot of hype from the travel world, but that is exactly its flaw. It is a gorgeous city, but there is a definite red flag when the amount of tourists outweighs the local population. In fact, tourism has driven out many of the locals, which hurts my heart because the people who created that beauty for us to enjoy are no longer there. Not to mention, the heavy cruise traffic and pollution has damaged the lagoon that used to provide so much life. To me, I feel like it is a lot of lost beauty that has been traded for economic benefit, and that is the reason I didn’t enjoy Venice as much. The rest of Italy that I saw was phenomenal and I would suggest visiting. I think Venice is great in the area, but I would hope it is not the sole focus of one’s trip.

The night before my departure

Overall Italy was a fantastic experience for me to reconnect with part of my old life and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I would hope that everyone has an opportunity to experience their vibrant culture and lifestyle!

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