When my cousin first invited me on her family’s trip to Italy, I laughed. Staying at a luxurious villa in Tuscany was the LAST thing on my radar. Seriously, I still laugh because it sounds like a dream (and it was). I didn’t think it would be possible for me to go for many rea$ons, however, I chose to seize the opportunity, see the bigger picture and live out many other clichés.
In short: I went on the trip.
In some ways, the last-minute nature of the trip was very beneficial for me. With just a few weeks in between booking and flying, I had less time than normal to process what was happening. As much as I enjoy traveling and (theoretically) crave adventure, this was still a step out of my comfort zone. A step that wasn’t effortless, despite the incredible location. I don’t think my fears are uncommon, yet it’s slightly embarrassing and humbling to admit that I felt this way about a very privileged situation. A trip to Italy…of all things!
I’m the first to admit just how easily I can succumb to fear. Fear of the unknown, change, failure….even gluten! While I’m getting better at recognizing its presence and fighting back, sometimes it takes a good push from the outside (read: mom) for me to see what needs to be done. In this case, it was a combination of both.
Instead of viewing fear as something that should be completely eliminated from my life (not the goal), I’m learning I can use it to my advantage. I can reframe my fears into excitement. Excitement for the possibilities that lie ahead should I take a risk. Except for the gluten thing, I won’t get excited over that.
With that being said, there will always be a part of me that wants endless comfort (I might have squealed when I got into my own bed), but the part that wants a challenge is growing too. There’s room for both, as long as I have the courage to let the latter in.
I feel like I just wrote a bunch of fluffy B.S. that didn’t sound like me. I promise I’m still here, maybe just slightly jet lagged.
Aside from the “deeper” realizations, a few other things I learned in Italy…
…they take meal time very seriously. There was no on-the-go breakfasts or quick lunches, at least from my experience. Food was enjoyed and savored slowly instead of rushing off to the next thing.
…siestas are welcomed. I’ve always been pro-napping, and apparently everyone in Italy is too! Although it was slightly annoying when we wanted to shop.
… don’t expect understand road signs. In fact, don’t pay attention to them because they’re super confusing and point in a million directions. Use Waze instead.
…”gracias” and “grazie” are two different languages. Guess which one I said more often?
…sometimes (or a lot of the time) photos don’t do the scenery any justice.
…a break from routine (and cell phones) is so necessary every once in a while.
…eating gluten-free is tough but not impossible (I knew that from the last time I visited). Still, pack all the snacks, make allergy translation cards and bring activated charcoal in case.
…our presidential campaign is so insane that people in Italy are talking about it.
…I’m pretty darn lucky to have visited this country twice.
…take time to sit, relax and enjoy the view, whether at a coffee shop, in a piazza or at a breathtaking villa. But wherever you go, bring a sweater. Even though the view might be pretty, Italy is not immune to cold weather.
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I’m incredibly grateful to my family (immediate and extended) for an incredible trip. This isn’t the last you’ll hear of it, but this was the most important part for me.