Reflections on Italy

By junior Ryan Keller

ryan kellerTrying to conjure the words to describe the experience I had in Italy is nearly impossible. It was whimsical, spectacular, and majestic, all in one. The flight to Italy set the mood, allowing us to see the Swiss Alps as we made our way to Venice. I was able to see a view of Venice from above, too, which was mind blowing. It truly is a city on the water.

Once we were in Venice, it stole my heart—it was everything I wanted to find on the first day of the trip—the people, the culture, and the architecture were just perfect. The second day was rainy and so I was not able to explore the streets. However, when the clouds broke open, I found myself running to the canal to take a gondola. That ride was breath-taking and thrilling. Seeing the colors and experiencing the unique atmosphere truly brought the Venetian way of life into perspective. They are a people of the water, and I could truly get used to them.

As we were leaving Venice, I did not know how this trip could get any better, yet somehow it did. Florence was the closest thing to home in Italy. The busy city streets and the history everywhere made the city come to life. The busy streets of Florence had so much to do. I road through the busy city streets in a horse carriage with some of my best friends and ate gelato on a bridge overlooking the Arno River. Couldn’t get much better, right? It did.

While strolling through the shops of Florence; I made a quick decision to stop in a shop. It was an ordinary art shop; nothing appeared different about this one. While in the shop, I met the owner, a short older woman who spoke English very well. While speaking with her, I found out she moved from America to Italy with her husband in 1966. She used to be a resident in what she called the “Greater Northeast of Philadelphia.” I was overwhelmed with excitement and shock; it was such a cool occurrence to meet someone who came from your home.

Afterwards, we traveled to the hillside wonder of Assisi, where we saw medieval city streets and the beautiful Basilicas of St. Clare and St. Francis. They were truly majestic in their own ways. St. Clare’s was only one floor with little ornamentation. The structure truly represented St. Clare as a woman, representing her humble beliefs in every brick. St. Francis had this giant, powerful basilica that represented the waves he made by standing up for the church. Both are wonders in that Italian hillside.

Following Assisi, we traveled six hours to Pompeii, and it rocked. It was amazing; the history, the methods of communication, and the structures showed the ancient Roman intelligence. As a communications major, communicating is a skill I love understanding—their use of symbols was brilliant since there were too many languages so much of the population illiterate. It was a fascinating sight, how they communicated directions, potable water, and food.

After Pompeii, our group sang our hearts out to “Pompeii” by Bastille, which was thrilling and awesome. We arrived in beautiful Sorrento only a few hours later with the Mediterranean Sea only a few feet away from our hotel. The sea had no problem splashing me every time I got too close. Our night in Sorrento led to our half day on the Island of Capri, which was indescribable: I loved Venice—don’t get me wrong—but Capri was amazing. The water was so blue and the towns were so cute and happy. I couldn’t help but fall in love.

After returning to the mainland, we made our long journey to Rome where we saw sights like the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and traveled between nations to Vatican City. The city in itself was amazing; it is truly the Italian New York City. That said, my favorite part of Rome was nowhere above ground: it was the underground catacombs that blew me away. Seeing the sights, understanding the culture behind them, and grasping the fact that someone came up with the idea to build the catacombs underneath Rome was the highlight for me. Italy in of itself was a place I would recommend to any traveler. The cities and towns were great, the food was not badly priced and tasted delicious, and the sights were astounding. It was simply a perfect trip!