My time in Italy has been absolutely amazing. I’ve met so many amazing people! Today we are headed to Paris to experience some great art and meet some Parisian friends.
Overcoming language barriers has been an interesting experience while in Italy. I am continually impressed by people who are working to improve their English speaking skills. We met a man from Russia in a hostel and he told us that he had not taken an English class in ten years. We managed to have an hour long conversation with him about his travels in Italy and life in Russia. We’ve had to make a lot of flailing hand gestures to try to communicate with people, but we’ve also learned the importance of paying attention and really listening during a conversation. It is easy to space out and not truly listen to someone, but here, it’s imperative to pay attention the entire time.
Our time in Venice and Milan was great, but Bergamo, which is just outside of Milan is the real Italy. We are right next to the Alps with vineyards everywhere and some amazing sights and people. Coming to Bergamo was an impulse decision and it couldn’t have worked out better. Our hosts at the Bed and Breakfast are so kind and willing to show us around. We even stumbled upon a huge town celebration. It is much more fun to take the path less traveled.
Today I was struck by the way people perceive Americans. A few Italian folks asked us why we love war so much because we are from America. This generalization is difficult to hear, but something we should all think about. Why are we constantly at war? I was born into a country that has been at war since I was 6 years old, yet we know very little about what we are fighting for. My studies this summer have shown me the importance of searching for good sources of information, but also helping others to see that generalizations do not accurately reflect an entire culture or nation. Although I tried to explain that not all Americans support the war, it was very difficult to do through the language barrier. I have become much more aware of the things I say while abroad because I am acting as an unofficial ambassador for my country. A generalization could be made from one word I say in a casual conversation to someone on the street in Bergamo, Italy. Food for thought…literally seeing as this occurred while we were having dinner.
All in all, Italy was great and I hope to come back in the future, especially to Bergamo. I can see why so many great artists became inspired while in Italy, it’s gorgeous. I can’t wait to get into the studio and paint!