Well hello there and welcome back to another installment of “holy hell, I’m in Italy again.” It was nice to be able to re-cooperate at my cousin’s house in the country for a week. Home cooked meals and the country quiet was replenishing. You don’t get sunsets like the ones here in Everett. (But Everett has it’s own charm, especially in the spring)
We went up to Milan for a day – it was not enough time and too much time all at once. It’s a big city and a bit overwhelming. It doesn’t have the same warm Italian charm that Florence and Rome had. It’s much more in your face rich. But we did watch a street performer and a guy building a dog out of sand and that was quite interesting.
Lake Como was charming. Up by the foot of the Swiss Alps, the views are stunning. The town seemed less touristy than any other big Italian city I’d been to as well. I’m guessing that’s why many of the local places had such good food. The brioche and panino I had still make appearances in my dreams. I spent the day hiking around and then settling down in a piazza for a refreshing Aperol Spritz and some snacks. This is called an aperitivo.
The best apertivo I had was probably in Trastevere back in Rome. Anu and Kayvon joined me there. After spending so much of the month by myself, it was nice to see some friendly faces. And after a day of gelato, markets in Testacchio, pizza, and walking, lots of walking, we made our way to a little bar that had one of the best rum drinks I’ve ever sipped on (it was called a Jack Sparrow and included spiced rum and pineapple juice among other tasty ingredients I can’t remember) and they offered a salad and pasta buffet for the price of the drink! It was all fresh and healthy but delicious too. I love Italy.
Anu and Kayvon’s AirBNB host, a college student in Rome living there with her mom and sister, graciously invited us all out to her families beach house in San Marinella for dinner the next night.
Needless to say the food was fantastic and the company was better. Travel falls flat if you don’t connect with people along the way. If you don’t come away with a new perspective or appreciation for the people and places you visit, the whole thing becomes a drudgery. It was refreshing to hear about Italy from Italians.
The news worries me a lot. Italy as well as many other European nations and America have been experiencing and uptick in nationalistic fervor and hate rhetoric in their politics. I was worried at what I may find upon getting to the country. Were the likes of Salvini and Berlusconi reflections of the masses?
After speaking with the Italians I met along my way and watching kids of all sorts of skin colors and ethnic backgrounds play together in the parks as their parents smoked and chatted quietly on the benches, after the warm welcomes I received every where I went, after this trip, I have to say that I’m more hopeful than ever that the arch of history will bend towards progress and justice. (Yes there are plenty of garbage people – especially at airports – but we’re focusing on the positive) Rome had people from all over the world visiting, and not a single one of them could supress a smile when they had a cone of gelato in their hand. Deep down, we are mostly a gentle gelato loving people and that gives me hope.
I am no longer a 21 year old optimistic student studying in Rome with her poet friends. But she is with me. And now I get to be the 26 year old slightly more pessimistic artist in Seattle who gets to look back on a rich life and uncertain yet promising future.
I went on a little trip around Skagit with my friends this weekend and I have to say, Washington in the spring rivals the Sistine Chapel when it comes to reverence in me. And being back with my friends and family is pure bliss.