After two full days in Italy, I can easily pinpoint the three biggest things that have come as a surprise. The heat, the pace of the Italian lifestyle, and the enormity of so many of the structures that line the cobblestone streets.
I struggle living in Georgia in the summer, and the sun is not a joke out here in Italy, so I’m taking struggle to a new level out here. Hot cannot describe the weather adequately. The sun seems closer, and seems to burn brighter. I haven’t seen a single cloud since my arrival, which means nothing is slowing down the sun from melting me into a sweaty puddle. I came prepared with light dresses, deodorant and some anti-chaffing balm but I am still riding the struggle bus as my traveling companion so nicely put it today. While I slosh around in my own perspiration, the beautiful Italian women around us seem to handle it with ease. In their stilettos and wrinkle-free blouses, they all seem to be sweat free. My body betrays me as foreign before I even open my mouth.
While waiting in a very slow line today I heard a woman explain to her husband that “there’s no hurry in an Italian,” and she was right. Italians like to take things slow. Meals are slow, mornings are slow, busses are slow…and no one minds. When traffic delayed us into being 15 minutes late for a dinner reservation, no one blinked an eye. When we were nearly 20 minutes late for a guided Vatican tour, we arrived to discover our tour guide hadn’t even left the meeting spot yet. I get anxious and frustrated when a train schedule says the next train will arrive in 3 minutes and 7 pass before one shows up, but the Italians are unfazed. It is inspiring me to be a little more relaxed.
Finally, I’ve been blown away by how large everything is here. I not-so-subconsciously compare new places to my time living in South Korea and while sometimes it is shockingly easy to draw similarities (I’m looking at you, Colombia), Italy’s use of space is so focused o beauty over efficiency that I don’t know what to do with myself. I’ve seen pictures of all the great monuments of ancient Rome that can be found here, but standing next to
them really makes me feel tiny and amazed. The Trevi Fountain dwarfed every single person in the crowd surrounding it, and blew me away. As a 6 foot tall female, it is not often things make me feel short, but most buildings in Rome do.
Tomorrow we leave to head to Tuscany for a few days. I’ve purchased some sunscreen and a refillable water bottle in hopes of doing more than just barely surviving my time out here. I’ll let you know how it goes.