Back in 2004 our dad (aka The Knife) sent my little brother, Nicky, and I to Cassino, Italy to get cultured and learn Italian. A couple things. I didn’t speak any Italian. At all. I had never traveled outside of the United States, let alone with just my brother and no parents. I wasn’t even allowed to go on Spring Break and for obvious reasons. The Knife is no fool. And honestly, I was beyond scared. It wasn’t until Nicky and I got to Italy, that my nerves ran away and my excitement set in. I fell head over heels in LOVE with Italy. Since then, I have gone back three more times, once for “education”, once with my entire family and another time to celebrate the marriage of two very close friends. I am happy to say that The Mister Project and I are venturing back to the mother land come August. This time we are making our way to Tuscany and Sienna to experience the Palio and Tuscan vino! What is the Palio, you ask? It’s a massive horse race and celebration and we cannot frigging wait! After spending time with our dear friend/wedding photographer, we will make our way south to stay with my family in the small town of Fondi. We have many places on our travel bucket list, but there is just something about Italy that keeps bringing us back. Perhaps it’s not just some thing, but many things. Here is why I can’t stay away from one of my favorite places in the whole wide world.
The memories. I spent a decent amount of time there as a young adult and each time was a huge experience for me. I met my best friend, Deanna, there, my brother and I became closer during our travels and I met people from around the globe. It was my first time really immersing myself in a culture that was so incredibly new to me. When I go back, it reminds me of a very special time in my life that I often like to reflect upon.
The people. I recall years back hearing that Italians are rude to Americans. I’m not sure what Italy that person visited, but it sure wasn’t the one I’ve been to. With the exception to Colombian people, who are by far the nicest people I may have ever met in my entire life, Italians are beyond welcoming, vivacious, full of life and know how to live and love life! Their way of life, it is my favorite way of life.
Roman street musicians. I kid you not, this photo was taken in 2005 and I saw this exact same trio on our last trip to Roma in 2011. Verbatim. I am hoping if we stop for a day or two in my favorite city ever, we see them again. I mean, the guy on the right has a wicked middle part and he is for sure giving someone the ole’ stink eye.
Mia Famiglia. Our cousins live in a small town between Rome and Naples. They are some of the warmest, kindest people I have ever known. To have the opportunity to visit them, spend time with them and share stories is something I am very, very grateful for. I can remember my first visit to them like it was yesterday. It was beautiful. Just recently, I sat down with my dad and watched old footage of his trip to Fondi with his father back in the 60’s. I’m doing everything I can to get him to go back with us!
THE FOOD. This one is beyond obvious, but it’s one of the top reasons anyone goes to Italy. The food is impeccable. It’s fresh, seasonal and bursting with flavors that are practically impossible to replicate here at home. I’m hoping to spend sometime in the kitchen with the matriarch of our family in Fondi and learn a thing or two about Italian cooking. When Elena isn’t cooking for the family, she is cooking for whomever stops in at her restaurant by the sea. Worry not! I’ll share with you what I learn.
The Italian lifestyle. You could have fooled me and told me everyone was stoned in Italy. Italians are SO laid back and relaxed. Sometimes the stores are open, sometimes they’re not. In a rush for your passport or a train ticket…that could be a problem. Could it be frustrating? Coming from an American’s way of life, yes. Should we all just sit back, chill a bit and maybe add a joint into the mix? Si si si!!!
Fashion! Many Italians know how to dress…very well. Watching people walk around in Rome is sometimes like having a front row seat to a runway show. Never once did I see anyone, even young adults or teenagers, running to the store or out for lunch in something that could resemble their pajamas. Some Italians are so articulate and precise with their ensembles, it’s absolutely one of my favorite things about Italy. They definitely have a way of not over doing it, but not under doing it as well. Very easy on the eyes and classy.
The vibrancy. Whether it’s the colors of the Amalfi coastline, the vino rosso or the fresh produce in the markets, the colors of Italy POP. You don’t need magic mushrooms in this place to feel like things are extra colorful, that’s for sure.
Italian beaches. Need I say more? Ok I will. I’ve been to several beaches in Italy and have fallen in love with all of them. From Positano, to Sperlonga, to Ponza…there are so many gorgeous places to chill in the sun. And those are just the tip of the iceberg, there are tons! I love that you can rent a lounge chair and umbrella and have a spot for the day to read and people watch. If you’re not into tan lines, you’re in luck! Almost everyone is topless anyways!
Two words: VONGOLE and NUTELLA. Not together of course, but these are two of my favorite things. When I was studying abroad I became so utterly obsessed with Nutella that I bought a gigantic jar of it and would walk around taking a spoon to it. Ummm, yeah. Anywho, an old man came up to me, pointed to the jar and said something in Italian to me. Apparently, he told me if I keep eating it like that I was going to get big and fat. So, that was the end of that habit. However, when I am in Italy I never pass up on a Nutella crepe. It’s a must, people. And then there is vongole. These are tiny, delicious little clams most often served on a bed of linguine after being sauteed in olive oil, parsley and some garlic. Maybe even some hot pepper flakes to make it a bit “picante”. It.is.divine. There is no doubt I will have it at least four times on our next visit. Our cousin, Elena’s, being two of those times.
The Aperol Spritzer. To me, this is my Italian version of our mimosa. We discovered this amazingly, refreshing drink the last time we were in Rome. It is hands down the most yummy, summer drink I have ever had and I cannot wait to get my little hands on one (or a lot more than one) come August. It is a very simple mix of Aperol, Prosecco (or a sparkling white wine of sorts) and a splash or so of club soda. Throw in an orange to add a citrus spin to it and voila! Go make one right now. It’s five o’clock somewhere…probably in Italy. #wheninrome
The Colosseum makes me cry. No matter how many times I see that frigging magnificent creation, I get a case of the cries. It is so incredibly impressive that I, for some reason, become emotional when I see it. I have had this experience before with the Sydney Harbor Bridge. So, I am to assume gigantic, man made structures do it for me. Don’t be pervs!
The feeling of love, passion and romance is unavoidable. When you’re in Italy, it’s hard to not feel sexy and romantic. I’m not sure if it’s the copious amounts of vino, their romance language or if it’s something in the water there, but Italy is truly a very, very romantic land indeed.
Need a little push or reason to plan a trip…here are 30 reasons why taking a vacation (or staycation) are good for the mind, body and soul! Live your dream, people. XO
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