I recently made a weekend excursion with a couple of my classmates to two amazingly beautiful cities in Italy: Venice and Rome. My initial reaction when stepping onto Italian soil was, “My God, it’s actually warm here!” After enduring the winter months in rainy Dublin, Italy felt like a vacation.
Our first stop in Italia was Venezia: the city of canals. The only thing on my to-do list was to splurge a tad on a gondola ride, but after traveling for about 6 hours, we were practically starving. So we made our way through the quaint streets of Venice and eventually stumbled upon a small little pizzeria called “Gino’s”.
In America, you’re almost instantly greeted by a host or hostess once you step through the door of a restaurant, but in Europe I’ve noticed that it’s much more relaxed and some eateries are on a ‘seat yourself’ basis while others prefer to seat you themselves. Problem with this is that you can’t tell what kind of a restaurant it is until you stand awkwardly in front of the door, shuffling your feet in anticipation. This restaurant was no exception.
When a man bustled out of the kitchen he was happy to greet us and wave us on to any of the open tables available. We were one of the only people in the restaurant so we had quite a selection to choose from. For our first meal in Italy we decided to order authentic Italian pizza (the best I’ve ever had) and a rather pricey bottle of red wine to really experience the ‘feel’ of the country.
What I found interesting about Italy was that the stereotypes we tend to associate Italians with appeared to be somewhat true. The restaurant tables were covered in the typical red and white-checkered cloth and the gondola men were dressed in the black and white striped shirts with the straw hats keeping the sun out of their face. I’ve always seen pictures of landmarks and people from Italy, but I never expected the pictures to be so real. Everything in front of me I felt like I had seen before somewhere, somehow. But after seeing these places with my own two eyes, I realized that pictures can never do them any justice. After all, you can’t feel the warm sun that’s reflecting off of the baby blue-colored canals when looking at a picture. You can’t smell the salty air or hear an Italian hum a love song.
Italy was so much more beautiful than I ever imagined. The buildings were rustic and the green shutters were always open. Laundry hung on clotheslines outside of windows and I wondered if any of the articles of clothing ever flew away in the middle of a brisk breeze. I loved that I could think about little things such as this as I walked through the slow-moving streets of Venice. This weekend trip cleared my head and although I felt like a tourist, I tried to take it in as much as I could with the short time I had. If I could, I’d go back in a heartbeat to experience more of Italy’s breathtaking countryside and slower pace of life.