I have nothing against Europe. It’s just that Paris and London and Berlin don’t call to me in the same way that Hopkins, Belize, Tikal, Guatemala or Salvador, Brazil do. I’m not saying I never want to visit any of those European cities, because I do. I just feel like Europe will always be there and the ease of traveling those countries will remain even if I have a family in tow someday. While I do like architecture and history to a certain extent, I am not a museum person and can think of other ways I’d like to spend my time and money; at this point in my life, I am just drawn to a different type of travel experience. With one major exception…
Italy has been on my mind for a very long time. Part of my family is of Italian heritage from Sicily, and whether or not I got some of their genes has never been in question: some of my favorite foods are cheese, cheese with bread, cheese with some form of tomato and last but definitely not least, cheese on top of pasta with some form of tomato mixed in, on bread, in a bread pocket or with a side of bread. When it comes to desserts, Italian cookies, canolis, tiramisu, and zeppoles are amongst my favorites. When I was younger, I once requested several boxes of canolis instead of a birthday cake. I love them that much. Throw in olives, olive oil, gelato and some good wine and my mouth will never be empty long enough for me to complain.
Aside from just naturally being drawn to the cuisine, I have also always wanted to visit Sicily and see where my family was from. Of course, I want to see Rome, Milan, Florence and DEFINITELY Venice, but I also want to visit the places people usually don’t get to see- Parma, Tuscany, Cinque Terre, Genoa, Bologna, the northern lakes, and all of the places I haven’t even heard of yet (but will definitely uncover before my time there in 2014). I have (falsely, I know) romanticized visions of me volunteering on a farm, picking cherries or grapes for a few weeks while I parlay my new Spanish skills into equally good Italian skills. Seriously, I daydream about this regularly!
Despite it being on a whole other continent, this was the part of my trip I refused to give up when I decided to keep my destinations more isolated. Even when it looked like I might need to cut it a second time due to financial constraints and logistics, I still refused to admit it wouldn’t work out; I had been holding off on visiting Italy until I could spend more than 2 weeks there, and dammit, this time abroad was going to be it.
So, imagine how pleased I was last week when I re-realized that I am in fact finally going to get to go! I have been so busy thinking about visas and departure taxes in the America’s that I haven’t paid much mind to the 6-8 weeks I have planned in Italia. And during the summer too, which I love- I would rather be sweating than shivering any day. With so many amazing places vying for my attention, I’m not sure when I will get to my in-depth Italy research, but I know this year abroad wouldn’t be complete without it and I am so glad that I have finally nailed down a plan that fits this delicious country in.