It seems like a hundred years ago now, but back when I was living in Australia in 2012, around febbraio, I decided in a whirlwind moment that I wanted to travel to Europa. At the beginning I was just planning to do a 6 week trip and seeing all that I could see, a whole bunch of countries I had dreamed off, and catching up with some amiche that I hadn’t seen since just getting out of high school. Then I went to buy my ticket to londra. I decided to first by a one way ticket, then I would get my return a couple of weeks later… I never did get my return ticket. I decided, screw it, i’m over Australia, I want to see the world, and what better place than londra to have Europa on my doorstep.
I didn’t want to look back at my life and have regrets, my own mother, bless her heart, whom I love dearly, is in her late forties and has never left New Zealand, I didn’t want to be like that. Granted she did have me in her early 20s, so a baby would of been harder to drag around to the other side of the world, but still. So I thought, why not, LETS DO THIS! So I set off to get all my correct documents to be able to leave to come to this country called England. I was still planning to do my part of my Europa trip, but the destinations changed somewhat, after an experience at a Youth Conference called Ignite, I remember kneeling during Adoration, and thinking Dio, dove devo andare? And all I could think about the whole time I was kneeling there, was Italia, italia, italia, Sweet, that’s a good enough sign for me, ITALY HERE I COME!
So I started all my preparation for Italy, I was arriving to London on the 9th of dicembre 2012, e 3 giorni dopo I was flying into roma fiumicino!
I remember the feeling I felt as I was walking out of the departures. I’m in Italy…. I’M IN ITALY!!!! A place I could only dream of, I have always felt a special connection to Italy… Maybe because my grandmother’s parents on my father’s side were from the little aeolian island of Stromboli, or maybe it was because I spent 24 years going up going to the roman catholic church, just something about Italy gave me a strong connection, and there waiting for me at the otherside of the departures was my italian pen friend (now boyfriend) at the time Matteo….
I remember listening to all the sounds of the loudspeaker in italian, I remember laughing at the fact that both Matteo and I had to use google translate on our phones a lot of the time to be able to communicate.
The first place he took me after he got me an italian sim card was the vatican. Something that living in New Zealand you only DREAM about seeing, not thinking you would actually ever get to GO there! And it was bellissimo!
After spending a week with Matteo, and him taking me out to explore places I had only imagined, or seen in images, I got to see il colosseo, bocca della verità, il bio parco, piazza di spagna, piazza venezia, fontana di trevi and so much more. The more I saw, the more I fell in love. I then took a short trip by myself away from roma, to firenze for 3 nights, unfortunately I got quite frightened by myself, so only ended up exploring during sunlight ours, because my first evening there, when I was looking for the shop that sold puzzle rings, a man in his mid thirties on a bike asked me the time, he then realised I couldn’t speak italian, and was like “oh I need to practise my english” then I asked him for directions, as I was following google maps on my phone, but getting rather lost, and he was like “I’ll take you there, I’ll take you there…” Then he lead me the complete wrong direction, and offered to take me to piazza michelangelo, because his CAR was RIGHT THERE! Then he started taking selfies of me and him, it freaked me out a bit, so I told him I had to go and get back to my hostel, so I briskly walked off, as quickly as I could!
After firenze I caught the train to Verona for a night, after watching Letters to Juliet a few times to many. Unfortunately going to Verona, in the middle of winter, with it being -1 degrees in the middle of the day, was not ideal. I got to see a few places, but unfortunately because of the low temperatures, I really didn’t enjoy all of Verona had to offer, I ended up spending 5 hours in the stazione di treni luckily chatting to a Kiwi family who were waiting for there connecting train to Germany. Catching that train BACK to roma could not have come soon enough!!!
The suddenly, back in roma, and it was time for natale, I had never spent a christmas away from New Zealand before, and to be honest, I found it quite hard. I spent natale with Matteo family. And they were lovely, yes but still the language barrier was there, I could pick up maybe 1 word in 20, but that didn’t help give me any context, for christmas eve, it was new to me, that everyone ate seafood. I’m not a bit seafood fan, so I could only nibble at a bit of this and that, which I think made me look rather bad because I was this weird fussy kiwi girl who couldn’t communicate properly. Then we had tickets for the vactican mass, but turned up to late, so didn’t get a seat, so just went back to Matteo’s place, because it was too cold to stand in st. peter’s square. Christmas Day dinner was quite different for me too, it felt like Meat, meat and more meat haha I really missed my roast potatoes for Christmas dinner! But it was again, a new experience. I hope that next time I spend a natale in italia I will be able to share a bit of nuova zelanda with them.
After Christmas I ended up going to Germany, The netherlands and Belgium to see some friends from when I was just out of high school, then I went to Sicilia, that was a whole new experience in itself, I was spending two days there, before I went back to roma. Can’t say I was too impressed with the hostel I stayed at, when I arrived, there were still people in the room I was meant to be in, and they ran out of toilet paper in the toilets, and no one was ever around for me to say anything. but other than that, Taormina was such a nice place by itself. Pretty small, but I went for a few nice walks, and saw Mt. Etna! I remember when I was catching the bus back to Catania airport the bus driver was saying to me fa freddo, fa freddo, I replied with a “no! It’s hot!” But safe to say I was much happier back in la bella roma.
Then come gennaio, I spent a whole month in italia, staying with Matteo and his family. Unfortunately it rained a whole lot, so I didn’t get to see to much, and I missed my flight because of the snowfall in London, but luckily got another 10 days in italy without having to pay anymore for my ticket, because it was a real mistake.
When I came back to londra I made a vow to myself, that my italian, wouldn’t be as hopeless as it was those first 6 weeks I spent in my secondo a casa, so here entailed, “Kiwi Girl attempting italian”. I am very lucky to the point where I have a real live italian to practise on everyday if I need too, and am studying a mango languages course that I got for free, thanks to the fantastic Cher Hale! It makes such a difference to having support from so many people, people that I’ve never met before, and people that I see everyday, like the beautiful mother than comes into school everyday who’s italian, who says little things to help me practise, to the PE teacher who was pleasantly surprised to see I could have a short conversation with him, the the cleaner that said I’m doing better than his daughter’s boyfriend because he can see how much I want it, and am trying… to all the encouragement I get from my friends and family. I know deep down I will get there. As everyone tells me… piano piano Anna!
But I know deep down that if it wasn’t for Matteo, my crazy italian penpal/now boyfriend who is in london with me, it would be so much harder without his encouragement. Even when he gets annoyed at me for talking out loud when I’m doing my course. I know I definitely wouldn’t be able to do it alone, so everyone is making this possible for me.
Ciao a tutti
Some more photos of my beautiful trip in dicembre/gennaio 2012/2013!