In May of 2011 – after a long and hectic semester I took off for Italy on a whirlwind tour of what in my mind had always been and still was, the most beautiful place in the world. After flying across the Pacific ocean and the entire United States (HNL to EWR) we continued on another flight across the Atlantic ocean and finally landed at Fiumicino (FCO) Airport in Rome.
It was my first trip to Europe and I was in a complete state of culture shock. The customs line wasn’t a line at all. It was a sea of frustrated and jet-lagged Italians. It felt like an eternity before we rounded the corner and came in sight of the actual custom officials. Suddenly a new line was opened and a woman called out, “Americano.” It was the first word I had understood since departing the plane. I made a mad dash for the line and reached it first with my travel companions close behind.
Once we made it through customs we jumped on a train to the Roma Termini and spent an hour wandering around before finding the ticket booth. It was strange to see the man behind the counter smoking a cigarette while he counted our Euro currency and printed up three tickets for the Frecciarosa, the train that would take us to Florence.
On the train we could finally relax with a complimentary glass of vino and a little snack. Looking out the window of the fast moving train I could see that the city of Rome was an amazing blend of the ancient and the modern. The city soon turned to country and it was nothing but beautiful fields of green with vineyards climbing the hills in all directions. Century old villas dotted the landscape and I wondered what it must feel like to live in a place – so ancient, so exotic and so beautiful!