Despite the title, this is not my first time in Italy.
My first visit to this beautiful country was in 1996 as an infant, and my family proceeded to live here from 1999 to 2000. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to visit multiple times over the years, and every time I return the nostalgia overwhelms my senses.
Italy has a rich and distinct culture, an immense history, and a heartwarming energy that some may find addictive. Every time I drive through the peaceful green countryside, or stumble along the uneven stone streets, or indulge in the fresh, hearty cuisine, I feel the same sense of comfort I felt as a child.
I used to live in Soave, a small town in the northern Veneto region of the country. Growing up there was a child’s paradise, though I didn’t truly appreciate it until now. Playing in castles, taking dog walks through vineyards, eating gelato and pasta for every meal; the town is so intimate that my sister and I could run through the friendly streets unsupervised and everyone would watch out for us. Everyone in that town became like family, and I’m so grateful for the time I spent there.
Now, I am living in Rome working for a student tour company called Smart Trip. I titled this post “First Impressions” because I feel like I am basically starting over. The last time I came to Italy was in 2014 and though the wonderful Italian culture remains the same, I have changed so much as a person.
This is my first time in Italy without any family to guide me. I’m diving into a new job as a tour promoter and occasional tour guide, with other unique, fun, like-minded people as coworkers and roommates. I have an incredible opportunity to live in the Eternal City, where I can walk by ancient ruins daily and try to pick up some Italian along the way.
In the last week, I’ve become acquainted with Rome and its magnificent monuments surrounded by cozy neighborhoods. I’ve also enjoyed an incredible weekend in Florence for Smart Trip Orientation, where our staff bonding began with wine tasting and swimming in a thermal spa in the Tuscan Countryside. The rest of our time in Florence consisted of sightseeing, learning about the job, eating amazing food and enjoying some crazy nights out. I am beyond excited to work with all these lively new people and create a home here in Italy’s stunning capital.