Italy, I like you. I like you a lot.
I’ve seen, no rather experienced, Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, Viareggio, Carrera, Cinque Terre, and Genoa. Each city deserved days of exploration and immersion. Alas, my vacation waits for no man; especially not me. I am on my last grains of sand in my vacation hourglass, and I am determined to go out with a bang.
My grandma is part Italian, so I think it’s just my nature to appreciate all that Italy has to offer.
The people here have only been courteous and kind, almost to the point of being deferential towards me. I’m not used to complete strangers going out of their way to courteously assist me with their halting English.
My first encounter with an Italian was when I flew into Milan last Tuesday. As I walked through the airport, a man in a pink golf shirt stepped in front of me and rattled off something to me in Italian. I had no clue what he was saying and as he wasn’t really smiling, I sidestepped to go past him. This time he stepped in front of me again, pulled a military badge from his pocket, and then asked in near-perfect English, “Tourist? Where are you from?”. I replied by handing him my passport. He then pointed me towards the airport exit with a smiling “Bonjour”.
There was the white-haired bartender in Carrera who smiled at my attempt to open his beer refrigerator. He looked at me with a smile, then sarcastically tapped his biceps as if he could not understand my lack of desire and determination to grab a cold beer.
Italian taxi cab drivers are interesting. We had finally arrived in Milan after a couple delays, and we just wanted to get to our hotel. We walked to the taxi line and asked to be taken to our hotel. But no. Instead of accepting our offered money, the taxi cab driver used his personal cell phone to get us a free shuttle from the hotel. I don’t know why.
Italy is green. It has rolling hills with cities perched on the summits while vineyards or fields cover the hillsides. There are beautiful churches in almost every town with ringing bells and tall steeples. Along the coast there are either rocky cliffs, forests, or beaches. It seems that everywhere you look along the coast is just perfect. It’s impossible to know when or even where to stop because the options are limitless.
This afternoon, I walked along the harbor of Genoa. I could look into the clear blue water, or I could look up at the Attessa IV (a billionaire’s $50M megayacht), or I could look up at the colorful coastline, or I could walk along the old arched streets and see castle walls, or climb steep staircases in narrow alleys; there was just so much.
Tonight I sit in my hotel room, overlooking a yellow-lit one way street, and listen as the night rain falls while I try to blog. It is just relaxing. I am happy with life.
I could try to describe to you the sights and sounds that greet me each day here, but I am not that proficient with words. Italy is a place (paradise) best left to personal experience. I haven’t left yet, but I already want to come back. Wait, let me rephrase that, I will come back.
There is just one problem – slight as it may be. I have been to so many spectacular places. Which one deserves a return visit? All of them do, but then which one do I revisit first?
Vacation is like a drug. Once you embark, there is no sane return. But right now, I am on my trip (pun intended) and I’m enjoying every moment.