Saturday, September 4, 2010

La vita è bella

I just got back from Italy. This is a big deal. I don't really travel much (between paying off student loans and saving to buy a house, travel is usually so pie-in-the-sky that I don't even let myself think about it). But this time, my husband was going for work -- and since that meant his expenses were being covered, we decided I should go too. After all, how often do you get a half-free trip to Italy?

The town we were in -- called Rieti -- is the geographic centre of Italy. It's ancient, beautiful, and totally devoid of English-speaking tourists. That made for some adventures in communication, as I have forgotten everything I didn't learn in the first-year Italian class I took in University.

This trip was so interesting for so many reasons. Not only was it stunningly beautiful, but walking around Rieti is like walking around a time capsule. You'll turn a corner, and there's a 13-century arch starting you in the face. If there was anything that old in Canada, it would be behind glass - not a functional part of the city that you can touch and experience first-hand.

But being in a place where I didn't speak the language was actually surprisingly difficult. Everyone was extremely friendly about my very broken Italian, but it meant that I couldn't communicate beyond the basics (hello, how much, thank you, where is, etc). For me -- who's probably one of the chattiest people in the world -- that was unexpectedly tough, especially because I had never experienced that before. But it was also was one of the reasons the trip was so valuable. It made me think about how brave you'd have to be to move to a country where you don't speak the language.

It felt so good to stretch myself like that. And it doesn't hurt to do it in a place that looks like this:

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