Updated: Nov 13, 2019
I've been home from my trip-of-a-lifetime to Italy for a few weeks now and although I came back and hit the ground running (life as an entrepreneur!), I wanted to take a minute to reflect on the experience as a whole. Did I learn anything? Did I bring anything back with me other than a bellyful of pasta, pastry, and gelato?
1. People are different but exactly the same. There are 1,001 infinitesimal ways in which the Italian people are different. They smoke. They eat dinner crazy late. They stand closer while speaking to you (and they really do wave their hands around more). But those are just the outside things. On the inside, we're all just the same. Nothing communicates better than a smile.
2. Italy seems much better at the whole eat local, pay attention to where your food comes from thing. Not sure what to do with this one - although I'd like to change every American into one who prefers locally produced food, that's an exhausting prospect. But it reinvigorated my own quest to live a local life - local food, local businesses, local community-building.
3. But local goes beyond local. Venice is sinking because of warming, rising seas. Every time we hop in a car or onto an airplane, we are contributing to the demise of Venice (and plenty of other places around the globe both near and far). We are all in this boat together and have a responsibility that extends to the whole planet. Don't get me wrong - I didn't walk to Italy, I flew on a plane. But one choice at a time, one day at a time, and we can create significant change.
4. Stopping and looking is pretty much a requirement when touring somewhere like Italy. I struggled at times to stay in the moment. When you're used to always being on the go, literally as well as mentally, taking the time to appreciate where you are, what you're seeing, and how lucky you are - it can be tough. This is something I need to work on.
5. All over Italy, I spotted a wide array of transportation options. I kept seeing what looked almost like circus cars - tiny little cars and trucks in all sorts of places. But you know what I didn't see? Giant, gas-guzzling, space-hogging SUVs carrying one person running errands within a 2-mile circle. Italians walk!
6. And you know what they're doing when they're not walking? Riding bikes! Bikes of all colors and styles were whizzing by on every street and parked on every corner. I LOVED getting places by bike!
7. I will miss the food. Of course I will miss the pasta. I ate pasta almost every day in Italy - it was always good, always fresh, always available. When I wasn't eating pasta, I was thinking about what pasta I was going to eat later.
But I'll also miss the wine, the coffee, and the dessert. After all that biking and walking, why not indulge in a second glass of wine or a cannoli?
Every traveler gets something different out of their adventures. In addition to a renewed commitment to all things local, I'm hoping that what I brought back was a recognition of the value in slowing down - just a tiny bit, and just once in a while. Realistically, you won't find me lolling away alllll my afternoons, but maybe I can manage it every once in a while. Because if you're always go, go, going, you can miss opportunities you didn't even know were there.