My First Time: Italy
I am absolutely captivated with Italy. For my first trip to Europe I wasn’t too excited for Italy but it has taken my breath away. The cities are beautiful, the food is simply amazing and the people are kind and helpful. I am leaving Italy with a new appreciation for this county and can’t wait to come back and see more.
Compared to other parts of Europe, Italy has a different attitude. People are very put together and take pride in how they are perceived. Italians dress very well and would never wear sweats outside; even if they’re just running to the store, they dress with style. Everywhere we went shop owners were very attentive and took pride in their business and treated each customer with respect. Even the waiters at restaurants were all very polite and helpful. We never had a problem finding people who spoke English and everyone helped us figure out what we were looking for.
If you’ve never been to Italy, the food, excuse me, the dinning experience is something to write home about. Here, people dine late and for hours. It’s not just a source of nutrition but a social cleanse from daily life. One night, Jeff and I were starving so we went to a restaurant we had found online that looked really good. We got to the restaurant around 6:30pm, which is perfect dinning time by American standards, and the restaurant was empty and the man inside looked astonished that we wanted a table. It seemed like he had just arrived and was still opening up the restaurant. Italians don’t go to dinner till at least after 8pm. Although the time is different the food is worth the hour and a half we spent walking around the block. Food in Italy has a higher standard of quality compared to many other places I have traveled. The vegetables are fresh, crisp and coming from America, they’re real.
Gelato is my favorite part of Italian cuisine. Who doesn’t fall in love with a country that has gourmet ice cream shops on literally every corner! I also love that it’s perfectly normal to walk down the street with an ice cream cone topped with a mount of ice cream larger than your whole face.
I’m a coffee fanatic and coffee in Italy may be the best I’ve ever had. In America, coffee is large and very mild compared to most other countries. In Italy most people drink expresso which is small and very strong. As someone who loves a lot of milk in their coffee I never knew what to order, I’m not a fan of foam, so I didn’t want a cappuccino, expresso is great but not what I’m used to and an Americano doesn’t have any cream. Luckily everyone I’ve come across is really helpful and understood what I was looking for.
Whenever traveling, the taxi experience is always a little different. In Italy the taxi drivers charge you a different rate depending on the time of day and number of bags you have. It seems that from our experience if the driver lifts your backs in and out of the cab, they charge you more for handing your luggage. Most other places I have traveled this is just common courtesy.
Rome is a vast city with centuries of history. Coming here is a bit overwhelming. The city is full of ruins, modern cafés and tons of designer stores. Although I’m not a history buff there is so much I wish I knew before coming here. It’s hard to put thousands of years of history into perspective in a city like Rome. Before visiting Rome, I knew that I wanted to see the Colosseum, the Trevi fountain and visit Vatican City to see the Sistine Chapel. I didn’t realize how much more I wanted to know about the history of these places. Everywhere you look there are remnants of ruins and marks of the Romans.
We only stayed one night in Genoa. This was the first city in Italy I stepped foot it and even though we arrived at night I was thoroughly impressed. The city was so quant, cozy and around every corner was an explosion of culture. All the roads were made of cobble stone and all the buildings looked like they were right out of a movie set. We asked the hotel concierge if there was a good Italian restaurant close by we could walk to. He eager called and made us a reservation, drew us a map and sent us on our way. We were welcomed into the restaurant and as soon as we sat down I felt like I had never been to a restaurant before. Everyone was speaking Italian, eating away and drinking wine. Since both Jeff and I don’t know too much about wine we weren’t sure what to order or how to order it. The menu was on the wall making it impossible to pretend we knew how to order and just point to the menu which is something we do often when traveling. The waiter was more than helpful in holding our hand as we experienced what was my first Italian dinning experience and even helped us pick out a bottle of wine.
The next morning we awoke and for the first time saw Genoa with daylight. The city was breathtaking. Luckily our room had a balcony with a 280 degree view overlooking the whole city and port. Check out my panoramic video of the view!
As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.
Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.