Italy was my first love affair.
You’ve probably heard that before, but it’s the truth. Cliche or not, Italy changed me forever.
Italy was the country I always dreamed of visiting as a kid. I imagined myself as a National Geographic photographer wandering the streets with a black notebook in one hand, and a camera in the other. So when my art class decided to take a trip to Italy in high school, I jumped at the opportunity – pooling all my babysitting money for a ticket, and a taste of la dolce vita.
My trip was nothing short of a typical, American, touristy expedition – tour guides with headsets and all. But it didn’t matter because I was in Italy. And when I returned, I realized I could never look at the world, and life the same way again.
I wanted to study abroad in Italy, but a twist in fate (and the opportunity of a lifetime) sent me packing for Amsterdam. And well – you all know how that trip changed me too.
In Amsterdam I lived with 10 other students – yes, really – in a single, disgustingly dirty yet beautifully decrepit flat. One of the beautiful souls who shared that time, and space with me was my Italian friend, Elena. She’s the first one who welcomed me to the flat – swinging the heavy metal door open to a 20 year old, jet-lagged me, carrying 3 too many bags.
Elena would sit in the flat rolling her own cigarettes, swinging and twisting her rapunzel-like mane as she spoke, and when she thought you weren’t looking – scarf down an entire salame by herself.
Now, 3 years later, she was my tour guide and confidant in Milan.
In passing she’d tell you she was from Milan like someone from Framingham would tell you they’re from Boston. Elena was really from Cordonga, a village 45 minutes south by train that she called boring and sleepy.
But we met that first day in Milan – and she welcomed me with that same smile she had years before. When we hugged, her long tied-back hair swayed back and forth and we both started squealing like a couple of school kids who’d been separated in class and reunited at recess. No time had passed.
We had to wait for our other former flatmate, and Spaniard living in France, Lorena, to arrive via blablacar – so we decided to get some sight seeing in. My next Italian adventure began.
Follow along in picture form below – a full article on my trip will be published in the next edition of Modern Getaways Magazine.
Don’t forget to share this post on Pinterest!