*The Journey to Italy
The journey to Florence, Italy has begun: with some tears and the realization that I have become a bird that has flown very far away from its nest. But alas, there I was in Copenhagen, Denmark, with a six-hour layover before my flight to Rome, trying to stay calm as my stomach rumbled with hunger and pain from what I assumed had to be the airplane food. Let me tell you though, its appearance was too real: I was convinced it was appetizing until it was in my stomach and I had aches and the urge to relieve myself every ten minutes or so.
My spirits were still high, as I knew I would soon get to enjoy the finer things in life, like good wine, beautiful views, and romantic men with accents.
Traveling to Europe always makes me a little nervous. I wonder how people will react to me, knowing I’m an American. In case you didn’t know, we Americans are not too popular around the world. We kind of do what we want and ask other countries not to do the same. You could say we’re hypocrites. But then again, who isn’t?
So, I’ve set out to discover how Americans are truly viewed in Europe! For now, my own opinions on the European lifestyle will have to do, until I can finally speak Italian and have actual conversations with locals.
When I first arrived in Rome, all I could think about was how I was going to get to the airport with my overflowing sixty-four pound suitcase, my forty pound carry-on suitcase, and my twenty-five pound backpack. After being awake for more than twenty-four hours, and wearing too many layers on flights and in airports without air conditioning, you could say I needed a shower and a bed ASAP.
As I struggle to push and pull my two large suitcases, and to keep my balance underneath my heavy backpack, it takes me thirty minutes to make a ten-minute walk to the train station. But I’m soon off the train and finding my way to my hotel, and all is about to be good in the world. When I arrive at the Hotel Massimo D’Azeglio in Rome, the first thing I do is throw off my sweater to reveal a sweaty and lovely Adi, who has just had a very long trek to this oh-too-fancy hotel.
The faces of the hotel employees as I walk in:
But I try not to be discouraged and ask to be checked in. One staff-member’s first response: “You want to check in here?” I guess I missed the memo that I was supposed to be wearing a silk dress and summer wedges after my eighteen-hour journey from New York to Rome.
My bad, Italy…
‘Twas an important life lesson: a t-shirt and leggings are not acceptable everywhere. Comfort is always important, but in some places like Europe, it is respectful and almost necessary to put effort into what you’re wearing. Especially Italy: I mean, HELLO MILAN.
For instance, you can’t walk into a church or any sort of religious site with too much of your skin showing– a good portion of legs and shoulders must be covered. Do you have boobs? Or a shapely figure in any way, shape, or form? Yes? You’ll have to cover up all of that because it can’t exist here, understandably. Italy is a Catholic country; people must respect the religion and they must act and dress in certain ways, especially when at a church or other religious site.
Going to the Vatican wearing a thick winter dress that went down to my knees and elbows was not the most comfortable experience, but it was necessary. And you know what? There’s something freeing about covering up. Freeing as in an I’m-dying-of-heat kind of way…
But really, some things Americans need to know about Italian culture:
You must always remember that you are not the only person in the world. This might sound obvious, but yelling on the streets at all hours of the day is considered rude by 9.9 out of ten people. Getting drunk and being loud are frowned upon; alcohol is consumed in moderation here. Speaking of moderation, everything is in moderation: food, clothing, cleaning, working, and energy. It’s illegal to turn on the heat before late November. During the summer, air conditioning is only offered in select places, and only during certain parts of the day. So yes, I sleep with a fan blowing warm air into my face. (Wow do I sound like an over-privileged American.)
One of the main differences to keep in mind when traveling abroad as an American: most of the world does not waste as much as we do, so be very conscious of what you do and how you do it. Don’t rent a car in a city like Rome or Florence. Don’t buy water bottles; drink tap water. Don’t leave things plugged in and on when you’re not in your apartment. And once again, remember to think of the rest of the planet when doing anything. Do you need to take a half-hour long shower? Do you need to wash your clothes every night?
SUSTAINABILITY MY FRIENDS.
We need more people who care– and Italy has totally got it going on.
Until next time, my friends:
#YOFLO (You only Florence once).