Italy makes it into my travel ‘record book’ – it is the country in which I’ve stayed the longest amount of consecutive time. I arrived in to this pasta haven at the end of April – so that makes 2 months in Italy. I had grand expectations of Italy as prior to starting on this world adventure it had been my favorite country to travel to and I never seemed to want to come home. In fact, I had dreams of living here one day. However, now after more travel under my belt and 2 months here – I can safely say that I still love it here, but I’m ready to move on. I had a wonderful time here; however, I never really felt a part of the everyday culture as I hoped I would have. Sure, there were great times, times where I met locals and tried to ‘fit in’, but for some reason or another I never really felt super comfortable here. I’m not sure if it was an internal phase I was going through, or my experiences in Italy. Even when I lived in Sorrento for a month, I still never really felt like I belonged there. I used to use Italy as my escape…my escape from NY and work. I glamorized it and fantasized about it. But maybe since I’m not running away from anything – any place, any job – maybe, just maybe that’s why I’ve felt differently about it this time around.
Photos: For all of you people out there that complain about not seeing any photos of me…this post is dedicated to ME in Italy!
I did have my favorite places in Italy – Ferrara, and Ischia probably top my list. I will also always love Siena and Tuscany, but maybe it was all too much of a good thing. Maybe it was too easy and beautiful…is that possible? Like most everything, I think I had higher expectations than reality – so I’m sure that jaded my feelings about it. I really don’t mean to paint this negative picture – as it wasn’t a bad time at all. In fact – it was quite the fairy tale time – cooking schools, sailing schools, villas in the country, laying by the beach, wonderful food, Rome nightlife – it was all a great vacation! However – maybe that’s just it – it was a vacation and I’m not sure that’s what I was really looking for. It’s rather difficult to sort out all of these thoughts as I’ve never traveled for this long before, I’ve never been away from the US this long and I find it difficult to sort out my feelings – is it the country, is it the long term travel, is it the fact that I’m still living out of a suitcase…is that why I felt off my game here in Italy? However – I also spent a lot of time in Italy sorting out my next travel plans. The plans had changed rather extensively from my original itinerary – so I had to spend a great deal of time playing travel agent. Many people ask me how in the world I plan all of this travel on my own…the answer is that you spend many hours on the internet searching. Searching, searching, searching. It’s exhausting and you never really know what sites to trust and you wonder if you just look for another 5 minutes, you may find something else that’s better or more desirable – and then it’s 5 hours later and you still haven’t made any travel decisions! Sorry – I kind of got off the topic of Italy…back on track…sometime soon I will dedicate a whole post for how to do travel planning on the internet.
So- I may not have become fluent in Italian, nor met an Italian lover, nor bought my own Italian villa – but as always, I made a few observations about the people and the culture here over the last two months. Things that I found funny, or strange, or stupid…I’ve collected a few here.
There is no escaping it – food is frickin’ everywhere. I believe it is impossible to be healthy in Italy. Or at the very least it’s impossible to leave here the same size you came here as in two months. Everyone is trying to stuff your face…it’s crazy! I’ve decided that’s why all the shops are filled with moo moo dresses. Seriously – in these resort towns it appears that you either have to dress as Elilzabeth from Pirates of the Caribbean (all corsettes and cleavage) or you dress like you are 60 years old and overweight in a moo moo dress. They even try to disguise the moo moo dress with sequins, loud colors…and call it a tunic or beachware, but however you look at it – the big, boxy dress with out any shape is still a moo moo dress. Yet – I find myself looking at the sequin boxy dresses thinking – oh – that’s cute – that would fit my new curvaious pasta body…then I have to tell myself to snap out of it and realize that once I leave Italy that it’s likely I will contract dysentery in India and all of my weight problems will be solved! The other baffling part of the equation is that Italians appear very unhealthy in their lifestyle (like most of Europe that I’ve seen) – everyone smokes constantly, and no one exercises. I honestly don’t get it – how do they stay thin? There’s no shortage of good looking, skinny women in Italy – I have no idea how the do it. You see people eating gelato every day…and that’s not fat free! I would go running and people would look at me like I was a freak! It just doesn’t all add up. More than once I wondered if these Italians were actually from this planet or maybe they were some alien lifeform! I digress…However, I did find out that there’s the tourist eating lifestyle and then there’s the Italian eating lifestyle. The Italian daily menu consists of a café in the morning, and some biscotti or maybe a croissant…but that’s it. Their breakfast is very small. Lunch is the big meal – it’s the one in which people do actually eat pasta, meat – the normal Italian courses. Afternoon consists of another café and then the evening is typically a light dinner of grilled veggies or just some proscuitto and cheese. The tourist daily menu consists of coffee, toast, cream croissant, and fruit for breakfast. Lunch is normally pizza or a panini – basically something that has huge amounts of cheese. Every afternoon you are to have a gelato – normally 2 scoops of ice cream as it’s just too hard to choose one flavor. Dinner then is antipasta, primi pasta, secondi (meat dish), and dolci. Oh yeah – add in a few café’s and bottles of wine too. So – after spelling this out…maybe I have my answer. I – obviously signed up for the tourist menu for 2 months.