Here is another one of my rants on Italy, this time I used a bunch of metaphors and similes. Some of these metaphors are actually based off of real things, like travelling for an hour and a half and the place you are going to is closed. That happened when we tried to go to Pompeii. Anyways I’ve changed a lot of my thoughts since I wrote this. I’m not always this cynical, just when I’m fed up with frustration. Maybe you can relate.
Traveling in Italy is like driving down the road when all of a sudden a yeti comes and totals your car.
Traveling in Italy is like scoring a touchdown, only to realize the ref called a flag just seconds before you succeeded.
Traveling in Italy is like your boss giving you a raise, but then your house catches fire.
Traveling in Italy is like smelling a beautiful flower, only to realize it is the devils breathe.
Like finding a perfect tinder match, only to learn you are being catfished.
Traveling an hour and a half on a train, only to realize the place you were trying to get to is closed.
Trying to buy a discount card, only to realize you didn’t read the fine print that said you had to be an EU citizen.
Running to the bus because it was on the other side, hopping on just in time, but catching someone’s mucus spit on your backpack.
Buying a nice quality bag, only to realize the supply exceeds the demand and you overpayed.
Every train being delayed, except for the train you arrive a minute late to.
Having your phone company tell you 4G data is free all day, but getting the edge network (slowest data) 70% of the day.
Getting on the wrong train when your train at the same platform is late, and end up passing your destination and having to retrace your steps.
Asking to try on a pair of shoes a size larger and being told you can’t because they won’t fit your feet, but buying them anyways and then fitting perfect just like you thought.
Traveling in Italy has been really hard. Everything may be going well, but then a curveball is thrown at you and it can ruin your day. We’ve learned to not let everything be ruined, but instead we laugh. We laugh a lot because things are constantly not going as planned. The country is beautiful, but the people are not. The country is rich in history, but has a corrupt and poor economy. Lots of nature, but equally as much pollution (and cigarette smoke). Point is, Italy is not all that and a plate of pasta. It is full of pasta, very good pasta, but the country itself can be defined in one word: Challenging.
Everything is challenging. Whether it is transportation, information, eating at restaurants, finding something open, etc etc etc. The store is never open when you want it to be. The train never comes on time, except when your running late. The internet almost never provides enough information, and your stuck having to fend for yourself and think quick on your feet.
Even the language doesn’t make sense. There may be 20 words for one little thing, but you have to choose the exact word based on where you are, you are are, who the other person is, what your relationship is, what time of day or year, and more. For a foreigner they aren’t too picky, they’re mostly happy to see you trying. Though as a foreigner it can be pretty tricky to try and understand if: A) they are using different words than you know (or are used to), B) they talk fast and complex even after you ask (in Italian) to slow down.
So many people come to Italy and you hear them talk about its beauty and how it was so amazing. There are different kinds of people who travel though, some book tours, others live it out themselves. Those who book tours (both all inclusive and individual ones) typically have an easier time seeing and doing things. Everything is planned, they don’t have to worry about other costs or something going wrong. Those who live it out themselves typically choose to plan things on their own, without the direction of a guide. The latter also typically go more so off the beaten path. The former ends up sticking to touristy things and definitely getting a different experience.
I am the latter. I am stubborn and I like to plan everything myself so I have room for flexibility and exploration. I’ve been on a guided tour of a whole city and it sucked. I felt trapped. I couldn’t explore or spend the amount of time I wanted to at places and not everywhere we went was I interested. I like to experience the real culture, not a fake one that tour guides try to make it out to be. When you live in the rough, you learn to adapt. When you live in Italy, you begin to expect nothing to go the way you planned. That is what I have become. I have let go of my expectations and nothing can surprise me anymore.
I don’t think everyone has the capacity to travel abroad. I’m sure other countries leave people feeling this way, but Italy seems so much more so than all the others I’ve been to. Italy seems to be rough on other travelers I have met along the way. Everything is backwards, people are rude, Sunday is the worst day of the week because everything is closed, and you become an early bird because the only thing to do in Milan after 8pm is go to a club or bar with equally posh Italians who all look 20 years older than their real age because they smoke so much. It’s been really life-changing living in Italy, and traveling abroad in general. I have 2 months left until I go back to the mothership, and I cannot wait. I will go home a new person, with new skills, new knowledge, a new perspective, and knowing everyone who thinks Italy is the greatest place ever…. is wrong and they must not have actually been to Italy.
I think the reason people talk so well of Italy is because they had such an amazing guided tour experience. The country truly is beautiful, and if you are paying the people then they are nice. Otherwise expect to get shorter on your change.
Would I recommend living or studying in Italy? No. Just don’t do it. Visit Italy while you are abroad, but don’t make the mistake in living there. If you really feel so inclined, then be prepared knowing it’s challenging.