Italy has been my home for the past four months so it is time to think about the things that I will miss most about this great place. I’m not stoked about leaving, but I will savor the memories, friendships, and lessons I have made and learned. I’ll remember each trip, the way it felt, what I heard, what I smelled, and what I saw.
I have pictures, souvenirs and built in retrieval cues nestled into my long term memory waiting to be accessed time and time again for the rest of my life, or until my brain decays past the point of remembering my early years. You may recall that I talked about what I was looking forward to before I left.
Already being back for almost one month, a lot has changed and I know that. Time is no longer a luxury; everything I do is supposed to adhere to a predetermined schedule. It’s the same things repeatedly. I feel rushed, confused, and somewhat out of place. My style has changed, too. From physical appearance to the clothes I wear. Even the way I conceptualize ideas has changed. I’ve become an economic, bare minimum kind of person. I rely on public transportation and cheap accommodations when I can.
1. Walking Distance
When I lived in Viterbo, the mini market, fruit and vegetable market, butcher shop, school, even the bar were no farther than a 15 minute walk. Everything I needed within reach. No time spent worrying about a car, gasoline, car insurance, or the horrible drivers of Italy. Even all the places I visited were easily accessible on foot. Hundreds of cities and their historic centers are commutable on foot. In Italy, everyone walks or takes public transportation so it’s not uncommon for you to see hundreds of people clouding the streets every day. Not having a car was a blessing in disguise.
2. Ease of Travel
Public transportation in Europe, not just Italy is a thousand times better than it is in the United States. That is a proven fact. I miss being able to fly to Paris for three days for less than one hundred dollars. The cost of travel is so much lower in Italy, too. I could get to Paris, Sicily, and Barcelona all for the price of one ticket to Las Vegas from Boston. Isn’t that sad? Yep, I think so as well. Travelling in the States is cumbersome and nothing short of a train wreck. It is simply a nightmare to travel between States. For example, a train fare from Boston to Washington DC costs 211 USD.
Italy has some of the best coffee in the world. Anyone who has been to the country can tell you that. Italian coffee beans are so delicious that Italians literally drink coffee every day, but at least three times per day. Some of the better brands of coffee in Italy include Ciobar and Illy. I went to an Illy café once or twice a week rather than a regular café because its coffee is so good. Seriously, try it. I actually found a bar near me that serves this brand of coffee. Going to the cafe reminds me of Italy and how much I miss it. I do really enjoy Dunkin Donuts coffee, but it’s hard to say that it’s better than Illy.
Pace in Italy is as thick as molasses. No one is in a rush and no one really prioritizes a scheduled lifestyle as we do in the United States. I miss moving that slowly. I miss the culture that brought me outside four times a day for coffee, meat, and vegetables. Since returning, I have noticed that I’m constantly moving. Every minute counts. I have thought long and hard about this and am strongly considering moving to Italy permanently. I’ve been applying for jobs in Rome and Milan. That is how serious I am.
5. History and Architecture
Is it surprising to hear me say that Italy also features among the richest and brightest histories in the world and the most startling architecture? Don’t be. With family history, ranging from Borgia to Medici — artists such as Da Vinci, Donatello, Raphael, Bernini, and of course Michelangelo – it’s no secret that Italy quickly became a renaissance powerhouse. Siena is known for its olive oil, Chianti for its wine, and Florence for its leather. Virtually every region of Italy is known for something.
To say that Italy features the best architecture would be an overstatement. The Vatican is beautiful, the duomo (there’s that word again) in Orvieto is breathtaking, and Venice’s canals are brilliant, but from what I have hear – and yet to see – Prague has beautiful architecture. I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m just not saying its number one. I simply have not seen enough of the world to make that claim.
All things aside, I didn’t get to see all of what I wanted in Italy and I will go back. The cultural history was one bit of Italy I was dying to see and so I did. I saw and learned much more about art, families, architecture, and culture than I ever thought I would.
That’s all. Five things I already miss about my home away from home. Honorable mentions include Viterbo, which will always have a special place in my heart; the citizens and their overwhelming kindness; and the gelato.
Since being back, I feel out of place, as if my entire world has changed around me, and that a place I used to call home feels stranger than ever. I won’t ever admit this to anyone in my family, but I can’t stand what I have come back to. This lifestyle simply is not me anymore. Italy has changed me for the absolute best and for that, I will be eternally in debt. I’m just not sure how much longer I want to be the elephant in the room.