Retrospective: Focus on Italy

In my travels all over the world the one place that holds a special place in my heart is Italy. I could be holding a bit of prejudice since it is my heritage; however, I don’t think it would be a far stretch for anyone Italian or not to fall in love with the history, culture, food, and open arms of this country. From the moment you sit at a café in the morning and sip the best espresso you have ever had for a mere .60 euro or take a passeggiata (evening walk), you are hooked.

WorldStrides Summer Focus on Italy program gives the traveler the opportunity to do this and so much more. Each day was an immersion into to the many different cultures that are found within each region of Italy. To say that one part of Italy is the same in all parts of Italy, would be a travesty to say the least. Each city we visited had its own personality not easily described, but I will try…

Capri and Sorrento, high cliff seaside villages with streets filled with artisans and quant shops instantly makes you feel like a local. It’s a great place to brush up on your Italian or even try a few new phrases because the locals are so warm and welcoming. A private boat jets you around the island of Capri and its crystal clear blue waters, making you feel like you are on lifestyles of the rich and famous. Floppy hats and linen clothing complete the dream. Be sure to look at the wood work, linen goods, and lemon products in this area for which they are famous for.

Rome…what can I say about this city other than WOW! Here is where history is everywhere. From the “peters” that you walk on to the forum where you can buy a trinket as they did a thousand years ago, everywhere you look has some historical relevance. So much that they no longer will build in Rome because every time they dig they find something new. St Peters will take your breath away. Be sure in this city you are dressed appropriately shorts and tank tops are not allowed inside churches.

Florence is where a foodies dream comes true. Here you will experience foods that are found nowhere else but in this city. Be sure to look for “finoccino” cured salami that will change your life! This city is also where you will hear Italian in its purist form. Climb a tower with over 400 steps for a breathtaking view and stroll across the Ponte Vecchio to pick up some the best olive oil in the region.

Finally Venice, the fish island as the locals call it. Some musts in this city are a gondola ride, a visit to a glass blower, people watching in St Michaels Square, and simply getting lost in the streets of this city. One of our guides said it is a must to just walk the alley ways crossing canals and seeing all that Venice has to offer. I know that when we did it we found the best gelatos ever just off the beaten path. One thing that we found true is that if you see something you like, buy it! Because you may not find it again and do not try to barter. The people of Venice are very business savvy and are easily offended at such offers and may even raise the price.

Italy was incredible and our family of WorldStrides travelers will carry a piece of it in their hearts (as well as their bellies) forever.