It is now the end of my second week in Italy, and each of the three cities I’ve visited so far have been very different. Week One was the small, beautiful beach village of Villasimius, Sardinia. Many Italians spend their summer holidays here and so, this being the last week of August, the beach and town center were packed. I think I heard English spoken only twice the entire time I was there!
Then it was off to Rome. Talk about a 180! My friend and I only had three days to explore the city, which we filled with: a bicycle tour of numerous monuments (too many to name here); proper visits to the Colosseum, Forum, Capitoline Museum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, and Vatican; and, of course, shopping. (Though I didn’t go too crazy with the latter, as I still have four weeks of Italian travel ahead of me!)
While in Rome I sensed that I would feel the ‘real’ power and history of the city only after I was gone, and this is holding to be true. It’s been a few days since I left, and now that I’m not immersed in its frenetic pace, I can feel Rome’s haunting, pulling energy. It was amazing and slightly incomprehensible for my senses to grasp the true magnitude of how ancient the city is. One thing I know – I will be back.
And now I am in stunning, gorgeous, Cinque Terre, staying in beautiful Monterroso al Mare….the perfect balance between the cruisy, slow pace of Sardinia, and the extreme bustle of Rome. Visitors to Cinque Terre can usually hike the coastline between five of its villages (Monterroso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore) but, unfortunately, the last two trails are currently closed! At first I was a little bummed, but I’ve done the first two hikes a couple of times, and it’s been so beautiful (and hot!) here that I really cannot complain.
It’s my last morning here in Cinque Terre, and now begins a new phase of my journey: my friend and I part ways, and I continue on solo for the rest of my time in Italy, soon off to Lucca, Tuscany. While it has been great to discover Italy with a friend, I’m looking forward to this next stage of my journey, experiencing the insights and discoveries that only travelling solo can provide.
To be honest, I haven’t taken many photos so far, which is quite unusual for me. This is partly because my friend has been getting some amazing shots with her SLR camera – much better than my point-and-shoot! But it’s also because I’ve generally been finding the picture-taking a little distracting. I’ve come to Italy to absorb its beauty on many levels…to let Italy imprint my heart. And while of course I want to capture this journey, in a strange way, taking pictures is getting in the way of that. We’ll see, though. Perhaps things will change once I am on my own. Maybe I’m just being lazy!
Of course Italy has been having a deeper impact on me, going way beyond the sights I’ve seen. I can’t quite articulate it just yet; all I can say is that this adventure is exactly what my soul had been asking for – crying for – and I am in so, so much gratitude that I can experience every second of it. My heart is full and words (for now) just won’t do it justice.
Ciao for now. xo.