Over the past two years, I have been fortunate enough to travel to many different extraordinary destinations. From the lesser known coastal towns of the Balkans to the ancient cities of the Middle East – I’ve seen a lot outside of Kansas City.
One of the most distinct places that immediately comes to mind has to be Italy. With the ruins of the Colosseum and the timeless cathedrals, Italy can be described as truly atmospheric. And while sites like the Vatican and the Trevi Fountain are packed with tourists, they are absolutely mandatory for visitors…at least once.
Second-to-None Cuisine and Sightseeing
After sightseeing and observing the differences in cultures, trying new foods has to be one of my favorite things about traveling – and what is Italy known for if not their beloved food? It’s a cuisine that has been carefully perfected and preserved over centuries. Their attention and attitudes toward quality is astounding and drastically different than typical restaurants that you would find in Kansas City, or the U.S. in general. It’s a quality that Italian chefs take great pride in.
The first thing you’ll notice about authentic Italian cuisine is that it isn’t all pizzas and pastas. Sure, those are classic staples, but Italian dishes outside of the states consist of vegetables, rice, and seafood. The carb-heavy American approach to Italian food is far from a true representation of the Mediterranean peninsula.
Also, in Italy, less is more. They focus on quality, taste and nourishment as opposed to how much they can put onto a plate. There’s a reason why the Italian island of Sardinia is included in the areas labeled as “Blue Zones,” where people live far longer and healthier lives.
In addition to the variety of foods, Italy is incredibly diverse from region to region. There’s an ocean of difference between the rolling green hills of Tuscany’s wine country and the sun-kissed villages along the Amalfi coast. Milan is often regarded as the fashion capital of the world. Florence is known for its rich history and artists. Venice, of course, is a town largely built on sunken streets and this time of year is filled with tourists who line up to travel the canals by gondola.
No matter where you go in Italy, it’s fascinating to see how a relatively small country can be so unique from town to town.
Hold the Phone
Finally, one last note for those thinking of visiting Italy:
Like with all traveling, what is it that we remember most? It’s not the hotels, the photos on our phones or the t-shirts from famous hotspots. It’s the raw experiences and memories. Italy is a beautiful place with many things to see and do. My advice to anyone thinking of visiting is to take your time and avoid the luring “comforts” of modern traveling.
I enjoy nice hotels and attractions as much as the next person, but they can detract from the experience if you’re not careful.
It’s okay to go without Wi-Fi for just a moment, to get out and enjoy the many offerings of one of Europe’s most historic places. Don’t just try to cram in all of the tourist attractions and destination. Maybe take a walk off of the beaten path or two.
The whole idea is to see and do things that take you out of your average day and the mindset of passive consumption.