This 40 yo's First Impressions of Italia!
Updated: Nov 26, 2020
Greetings, adventurers! It's been quite some time since I've written about my travels! That ends with this post! But first, allow me to fill you in on a particularly joyous milestone!
This girl turned 40 years old five days ago! Happy birthday to me!
For at least the past decade, I've only wanted one thing for my 40th birthday: a trip to Italy! But as the world changed due to the coronavirus pandemic, I wasn’t sure that would happen - especially as Europe began experiencing its second wave of the virus and many countries entered their second lockdown. More on that in a minute.
Nevertheless, you know what they say, “Where there’s a will there’s a way!” I had the will and I found my way to Italia!
I've now been in Rome for the past 4 days and the food, fountains, people and, architecture have been such a joy to experience. So much so, while savoring an after-lunch espresso and tiramisu, I took stock of the past 96 hours and my first impressions of Italy.
Let's start with the people!
Italians are so friendly and nice! Since the moment I arrived at the airport, I've been blown away by the kindness, warmth, and helpfulness of Italians! People smile at me! They are helpful! They give directions and return my rudimentary Italian greetings and pleasantries with warm and enthusiastic replies! My trip was off to a wonderful start due to the hospitality that greeted me in Rome.
Men are well-dressed and wear nice shoes! It's been a while since I've had the pleasure of admiring a well-dressed man. So it was a surprise to arrive in Italy and find men well-dressed - complete with impeccable footwear. I'm not sure where I developed this notion but I believe the shoes a man wears and how he takes care of them says a lot about him. I'm impressed.
Similar to what I've been experiencing in Croatia for the past 8 months, coffee is a culture!
Coffee, or espresso for Italians, is to be savored. It is to be enjoyed with friends, companions, and co-workers; not carried away in 10, 12, and 16 oz cups. Likewise, milk is the supporting actress who makes an occasional cameo but is hardly the star. In fact, ordering cappuccinos at certain times of the day is actually frowned upon. What a stark contrast to American coffee culture!
4. There's soy milk for those times of day when cappuccinos ARE acceptable!
5. The Senegalese street peddlers are charmingly ruthless! Whew, chile! Let me set it up for you. You get approached by the street vendor and asked to buy a bracelet. I always decline. I can't remember the last time I wore a bracelet. I'm then "given" said bracelet for "free" only to be immediately and subsequently asked to donate to the wife and child back home in Senegal. It only took two times for me to get this scheme down! Now I just keep the bracelet in my pocket and when I'm approached, I pull it out and say, "I already have one." This works like a charm. No pun intended.
6. Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, wears their mask!
It's really kind of amazing. I haven't seen one person in Rome who isn't wearing a mask - and the majority of them are wearing them correctly. When I asked my friend what she thinks contributes to everyone's compliance, her response was, "We realize life won't go back to normal unless we comply. The way we're living now, with all these restrictions, is no way to live. So if everyone wears their masks, and follows the rules, and contributes to the cases going down, the sooner we can get back to living our lives." Wow. Can we make this a t-shirt and sell it in the United States?
7. Italians really do speak with their hands and I love it!
8. I've only been inside buildings to enjoy a meal, drink coffee, or make a purchase.
Rome is one of the few regions in Italy that is in the yellow zone (i.e, moderate risk) for coronavirus. In contrast, much of the country is either in the orange (medium-high risk) or red zone (high-risk). In fact, my bday trip was to include Rome, Verona, and Venice. Yet, in the 4 short days I've been here, restrictions have tightened almost every day! Venice is essentially closed for tourism, restaurants and bars in Rome close at 6pm followed by a 10 pm curfew, and flights back to Croatia are dwindling with each passing day! Great thing Rome, as that same friend put it, is an "Open Air Museum"! I've been able to see all the beautiful sights without having to actually step foot in a museum!
9. Friends (and siblings) of friends sweeten the visit to a new country!
Myself and Chiara enjoying a sunny day in Rome.
For the umpteenth time since I left the States, I've informed a friend that I'd be traveling to "X" place and said friend has said, "Oh my homeboy/homegirl/sister/brother/play cousin lives there. Hit them up and they'll show you around." Rome was no different! I spent yesterday with the sister of one of my dear friends from Split. I absolutely love it when friends (or sisters in this case) of travel friends become friends!
Well, that's all adventurers! Those are my initial impressions from my first 96 hours in Rome! Have you been to Italy? Or Rome? What were your first impressions? Let me know!
Be sure to follow me on Instagram (@docwash11) for the day to day journey of my birthday trip to Italia! Also, make sure you subscribe to the blog! That way, you'll never miss an adventure! 'Till next time!