My summer vacation was near and I was itching to get out of London. After a stressful year at university, a painful breakup (best friends are particularly useful during this period) and the British weather looking unpromising, its no wonder I needed to get away- and quick! So I booked a ticket, and found myself in Italy… Quite literally.
I love London. I probably don’t say it enough but I do. However, its an overpowering city, even for an expert Londoner like myself. Sometimes I just need to get out of it’s context to be myself again. Slow down (not sure I’ll ever lose the city girl walking pace though),lighten up and just simply re-charge with positivity- its not all doom and gloom (even if the weather is)!
Italy was a safe choice. I’ve been there at least three times, and I’ve got friends there, so a somewhat safe bet. However, ‘safe bet’ is a little too cosy for my style of travelling so I booked two and a half weeks with a plan to start from Rome and work my way up to Milan… Of course plans don’t always go accordingly- at least in my case!
I travelled with my best friend Rosa which was actually quite surreal. Since we were 18 we spoke about travelling the world together (another plan that didn’t go accordingly- that’s another story). So here we are, two 20 something year olds living our (somewhat) teenage dream!… But that dream would only last a few days as she had to fly back home, so I was left solo as my train departed from Milano Centrale, and she waved frantically and gestured ‘call me’ from the platform and distance between us disappeared with speed… That’s when my journey in Italy began…
With the distance between me and my best friend getting wider, it finally dawned on my that I would be all on my own. Fluent in Italian, Rosa also happened to be my translator. Now I was left to fend for myself. And it didnt take long before I was put up to the challenge.
Sitting opposite a rather cute looking guy, we exchanged a few friendly smiles. It wasn’t long before we got talking as I quickly established I don’t speak Italian. However my Italian was better than his english so that was a boost to go ahead with my broken Italian. The journey to Florence was long so making conversation with a rather pleasing on the eye Italian was a good distraction. We exchanged email addresses however by this point he’d already told me he had a girlfriend whom he was going on hoilday with soon. Not that I was interested in anything other than to keep in touch. Anyway, he got off the stop before mine. And that was the end of that.
Florence is beautiful. And I have a fabulous host to thank for allowing my to be completely open minded and open hearted to indulge in its beauty.
From Florence, I took a train to Rome. There I walked aimlessly with no sense of direction or particular purpose. In the mist of the summer heat, I sought refuge… A Starbucks!! I sat down in front of a gated Roman ruins sight and started googling ‘starbucks in Rome’. Then a polite voice caught my attention. Distracted from my starbucks search I put my phone away as I made conversation with Paulo (I actually can’t remember his name for the life f me!) Paulo was a shy, geekish looking 30 something year old who also happened to be a journalist. Perfect! He offered me a mini tour since all the places he asked if I had seen I hadn’t heard of let alone visited as I had just arrived. Our mini tour ended in eating the ‘best gelato’ and exchanging emails. I must get round to sending an email to thank him.
Later that evening I met up with Fred. A young Albanian guy who’d lived in Italy most of his adult life. He could sense I wasn’t so excited about seeing yet another statue or fountain, so we ditched the tourist route for the back streets of Rome where the best pizzerias could be found. I was thankful to see a different perspective of Rome from someone less enthusiastic about the city. I have since been told by many friends to come to Rome when they are in town and they’ll show me a good time. It’s not that I didn’t like Rome. I just wanted something beyond another statue of a Roman Ruler.
I carried on my journey south to Napoli.