Our Month in Italy
Not going to lie, saying goodbye to Italy was tough. I've been before on a week long trip but this time was an experience I'll never forget. The things we saw, the friends I made and just those human connections touched my heart in a way that will be with me forever. As I reflect back, I realize how much in that short month I learned about people and life in general and I'd like to share some of that with you.
Here are just a few of my takeaways from our fabulous adventure.
1. Never judge a book by it's cover
I noticed over and over again that we might walk into a building that didn't appear to look like much on the outside to find the most beautiful places on the inside. A restaurant that looked like a small pizza place turned into an amazing greenhouse glass restaurant with beautiful gardens and orchards behind it. An apartment that looks a bit run down on the outside contains incredible views, marble floors and exquisite décor. A small building at a vineyard contained a path of winding wine cellars with some incredible history and decoration. It's full of surprises and some of the most gorgeous places I've ever seen. By walking into a building, you never know what's on the other side of that door.
2. Take the time to enjoy
Italians seem to take life a little slower. Dinners last longer and include multiple phases. Conversations go on and on. Christmas is everywhere you look in the winter months...Lights, trees, music. You feel it. It's not a celebration there because of the extravagant gifts or the number of presents under the tree. It's because of the time of year, their traditions and they celebrate it well into the new year. They truly take the time to enjoy things and everything just seems to go a little bit slower there as they truly take the time to enjoy things and savor them.
3. Work hard but rest when you need to
One thing I noticed about Italian business hours was...there are none. At least in Sorrento, that seemed to be the case. Sometimes you'd find a café opened from 6am to 10pm with the same guy working the whole time. Sometimes you'd find it closed the whole day or part of the day. There are so many small businesses there and those people work hard. But when it's time to take a break, they take a break. Many of the shops in Sorrento said they would close after we left for two to three months. This was their time to rest and relax before the busy tourist season. They take advantage of this time and rest to prepare for it.
4. Say and do what you feel
As we got off the train in Florence a couple was standing in the middle of the train station. Although they weren't kissing, he was holding her face and talking to her sweetly. Their expressions to me were priceless as they said goodbye. The way they looked at each other not caring in the least what was going on around them. In most cases if an Italian wants to say something, they say it. If they want to kiss you, they kiss you. I love that about them. You never have to wonder about how they feel at any given moment. They will let you know it.
5. Be grateful for what you have
Not many of the wonderful people I met had a lot. And like everyone in the world, they went through so much in 2020. A large number of their population depend on the tourist industry to survive and since there weren't any tourists in 2020, it was quite devastating for many families. Somehow, they seemed to still have a grateful heart for what they did have. They appreciate the small things.
6. Be kind
Goodness! I say this all the time, but I still made some harsh realizations while I was there. While owning a small business and working from home, I guess I didn't realize how little I get out and actually see people. I don't really speak to anyone but my family and a few close friends. In Italy, I would get out nearly every morning and go to the café and get a cappuccino. Or walk to the town center and talk to three lovely elderly ladies who had a cute shop and who always had a treat for me. Whether it was a special holiday treat they had made or homemade biscotti, they always offered me something. Barely knowing me, they would tell me if I needed anything at all while I was there, to let them know. A family invited us into their home where they taught us to make gnocchi and have dinner with them. An emergency dental procedure that was needed for my niece was completed on the spot with no appointment from a dentist near our apartment. A little market owner where I often bought small items allowed me to "owe him" the next time I came in when I didn't have enough cash with me. Not even really knowing me or if I'd ever be back. Sometimes I feel like we've gotten away so much from that in-person human connection and I truly felt that there. It's something I truly want to work on in 2022. Even through a pandemic, there are ways we can be kind and make that human connection.
As always, in addition to these things I observed and learned from, I learned more about myself and who I am. This is always an ongoing process and evolution. That never stops no matter where I am in this world.
We truly loved our time in Italy, the people, the sights, everything about it was simply magical and I'm so grateful we could take the time to do this. Thank you for following along on our adventure and if you have any questions about our travels, please feel free to reach out to me as I'm happy to help.
A presto, Italia. Until next time.....