Oh, Italy. What to say to you? Where to start? Where to end? Where to even begin?
A week ago we landed on your soil, with the sun beating down and high expectations –you see. When traveling in a group of eight, there are bound to be at least a few expectations, regardless of how hard we tried NOT to have expectations.
You see, the thing is when you tell someone you are going to Italy –they gasp, and spray you down with their own expectations: vineyards, grapes, pottery, cork, wine, cheese and more. Something they saw in a movie, read in a book, or saw online. As if they have been there before -in the hot sun.
Regardless of how hard you try NOT to hold any of them up, there are expectations, no matter how small or how great…and those expectations are bound to be broken. Because this is Italy. Real Italy. Not Italy as seen in a movie, or perfect Italy, or even dreamed about, thought up of, and pondered over Italy. This is Italy. While it is true, a lot of our problems stemmed from #firstworldproblemsinathirdworldcountry, a lot of our problems also arose because of these expectations. Yes, the very ones we said we wouldn’t have.
Today we walked down your cobble stone alley ways, dodged little cars that sounded like lawn mowers, and selected some regular coffee off of the overstocked, too small grocery shelf. We came home, and sat around the table, on the balcony, over-looking the Italy that has become real to us this past week –and somehow decided to talk only about the good things that happened this week.
It took a few minutes to get things rolling, but once we started –there was seemingly no way to stop…and so we didn’t. We talked. We laughed. We remembered. We told stories. We drank in the smells around us –the good mixed with the bad. And soaked up the last that real Italy had to offer. Expectations or not, it has been a pretty good trip. Especially if you are able to throw out the bad, and look back on the good.
So just what is there to say, oh Italy. As we prepare to leave you –again.
The lemons –everywhere. Perhaps. Is a rather obvious place to start. Lemon trees, lemon liquor, lemon cookies, candy, cakes and of course -soda. Lemon towels, shirts, pots and pans. Lemons. As far as the eye can see. The smell of lemon lingers as you cross the crowded alley ways. Bouncing from one shop to another. Lemons. Mingled of course, with the smell of fresh baked breads and pastries.
The ocean –a short walk from our apartment. Even shorter if you use the alley ways which are buzzing with busses too big to even be there. The ocean –which is a mixture of both amazing Mediterranean –sparkling blue and green, and harsh dark waves that slam you into the beach. Both of which made our trips to the beach memorable and fun at the same time. If not a bit dangerous.
Of course, this isn’t to say that the entire time in Italy has been outstanding –because when you are traveling as a group of eight –each with expectations, there are bound to be a moments of frustration. Especially when combined with the “Decaf coffee.”
But as we prepare to leave, I wish to leave the hard moments and crushed expectations behind, and only leave with the wonderful memories that were made: On the streets, in the ocean, down the alley ways, and on the balcony. Small snippets of the days spent here. Memories that one day –will only be remembered as “That time we were in Italy.” Because when it comes down to it –life is simply too short to remember the grudges, and stiff hot air that made tempers flare.
Yes, Italy –you might have been a challenge for us to overcome, but I have a feeling that in a few days, months or even a year –you will become a favorite.