This post is a continuation of my post--How travel has changed me: part 1.
In September 2021, when I was engaging with all the awesome people that I met, the second thing that has changed my life because of travel is how I see things. And I've tried to explain this,it's not physical things, but how I see different perspectives. I had a lot of different groups of people that I hung out with when I lived in Florence. These people were from a lot of different countries. Friends with a lot of different viewpoints and being able to accept people where they are. It was hard at first.
I feel like when it comes to something that you disagree with Italians, Italians are more willing to discuss both sides to a point. Not everybody. They're not so quick to shut you down. But again, this always depends on who you're talking to. This is what I've seen as an observer, not so much in the conversation. In the early 2000s, when Berlusconi was still in the news, there were a lot of discussions I heard when I sat in bars and cafes. I would listen to them talk about politics, as much as I could understand. And even if they kind of shrugged the other person off if they didn't agree with it, they still listened to them. And they would still give them the benefit of the doubt being like, okay, I can see that.
I learned about myself while traveling when I pause and look at the beauty that is in this life. The beauty that is in this world, especially in Italy, can be indescribable. When I was in Castiglion Fiorentino, I loved staring at new views. And imagining what life was like back 100 years ago, in Medieval Italy. What would be going down the streets and when I would walk into churches and thinking, what happened here, who was married here?Then looking at the countryside from high above Castiglion and thinking, what was here? You know, 100 years ago 200 years ago, 400 years ago like what, what was going on in these hills? Why are these villas here? What and who were these villas protecting? Italy and Europe as a whole are a lot older than America.
You could just sit there and imagine sitting in the Piazza della Signoria and just see like, oh the Medici walking with their guards and all the noble folk and then the peasants to the side. I have all these really cool visions of what it must’ve been like.
If you listened to my podcast episode about Orsanmichele, the church that is really close to the city center. When I was even describing it to you guys on the podcast I was imagining what it was like to be getting my grain there as a farmer because that church was inside of the original city walls when Florence was a tiny little town.
So how I see things, either physically or in a conversation and how people take perspective differently. And, it's kind of let me kind of lean back and all the divine decisiveness and all the turmoil that's going on in our country in the states like to really think back going like why? Why is that person thinking like that? Like why do they believe that? I'm just curious, I'm not judging you, you can believe whatever you want to believe. I just like to see where you're coming from. I guess I'll leave it at that.
The third thing on how travel has changed me is about getting lost. I have spoken about this a lot here on this podcast. I feel even in Castiglion Fiorentino when I was there I specifically got lost. I didn't pull out my phone. Obviously, I didn't want to because of my data. When you pull up your GPS in a foreign country and you have a US plan it's quite expensive, and it slows down your data. Anyway, I didn't do it because of that. And also because I wanted to figure out my way back to either my apartment or where I was meeting Chelsea at the time. There's different things that you would see and run into maybe people because this town was really small. So the walks I would take there were never crowds like in Florence or Rome. I would run into people on the street and say “salve” (hi). It would be a really beautiful meeting. I never had conversations with people but like it was nice to see people and see their interactions, feel the interactions between another person and also just look around myself like as I would come to like, kind of an overlook because Castiglion was on top of this hill so it was beautiful to see different angles with what the city provides like different viewpoints and different points of view. This says that I incredibly enjoyed my time there, thanks to Chelsea. It was amazing. But when I would get lost in Florence, I did it specifically to again, figure out my way back before cell phones and to find maybe new places to go. Maybe I'd find a cute restaurant or a cute piazza or a cute boutique shop. And maybe I would walk into my friend Pasquale because as I told you guys before I would always run into him on the street. Kid you not. It's like I summoned him. And there were times that I remember walking a specific way and I'm just like, Oh, it would be so cool, if I saw Pasquale.” And I would. I would turn the corner and there he would be my little guru, my magical man.
Getting lost in a city that you don't know I recommend you keep your phone with you but I recommend that you fight the urge of getting onto your GPS and figuring out what street you're on. Just walk around the city. Walk around the city center. And if you do actually get lost, it's okay. You're gonna find your way back. I know this. I incredibly believe that. Everybody will find their way back. If you plan on immersing yourself in a culture, immersing yourself in a city, you'll always find your way back where you need to be. I believe it.
The fourth thing that I was talking about with Spud earlier. He asked me how travel changed my life and how it kind of changed the trajectory of my life basically. And I think and I totally forgot about the story until I told him. And when I was a student in 2002, I was living in a hotel with a bunch of other students. And this hotel was called Villa Bonelli, and there was a pub in the main Piazza. As you walk down the hill from the Villa, It was called JJ Hill. And I remember talking to Massi, the bartender at this pub. It was probably the first few times we went to this pub, the study abroad gang and I. And I was adamant about understanding and learning how to pronounce this phrase, Vorrei un bicchiere di vino rosso. I would like a glass of red wine.
What I wanted to do was pronounce this phrase well. So he wouldn't serve me the glass of red wine until I pronounced it correctly. I had a really amazing feeling in my body when I was told I said it correctly and the glass of red appeared. Something lit up inside me. I felt like there was an earthquake in my body. Then I said out loud. “I'm going to live here” The other students looked at me and brushed me off, oh no you’re not, Katie. I repeated, “I’m going to find a way to live here.” They ignored me even more.
What’s amazing is that 20 years later, I can say I actually lived my dream.
And I’m going to do it again with my husband within the next 10-15 years. We are moving back. It’s where we belong.