Over the span of spring break, sophomore Isabelle Martinez and her family left their daily American lives for an exciting eleven-day Italian excursion.
The Martinezes, eager to get the most out of their trip, visited four culturally different cities.
“We spent the first five nights in Rome, four nights in Florence, two nights in Venice, and one night in Milan,” Martinez said.
The foreign sights and gorgeous city layouts captured Martinez’s heart.
“I liked Venice the most, although it was easy to get lost there.” Martinez said. “Everything was on water, and it was so beautiful. Instead of taking a taxi you would take a water taxi, which is basically just a boat. To get to school, kids would even take a boat bus to get to class, and it’s really cool.”
Martinez learned that each city specialized in its own trade and was known for different trades.
“Rome contained more old history, and Florence was like what we would call a college city because the majority of people there were young people. We saw lots of churches in Florence, and they’re known for their leather products,” Martinez said. “Venice is big on glass things, and Milan is known as the shopping capital of the world with high-end design companies.”
Over the span of her trip, Martinez became aware of all of the differences between Italy and America that aren’t as well-known and expected.
“We have a lot more varieties of food in America. There, they have three main foods, mostly versions of pasta and pizzas, but meats like chicken and steak are pretty limited. You kind of get the same food everywhere you go,” Martinez said.
It was hard to adjust to the native meals while straying from American food comforts.
“One time at a store, I asked a worker if they had peanut butter and he was like ‘I don’t understand,’” Martinez said. “Also, we went to The Hard Rock Cafe a few times when we wanted a hamburger or something since the menu is universal. That was home base for me, I walked in and was like ‘Fellow Americans, I am home!’”
In addition to the unique type of food, typical restaurant etiquette and habits are different than what most Americans are accustomed to.
“It’s uncommon to wait at a restaurant. One time, when we were told the restaurant was full and offered to wait, the hostess was surprised,” Martinez said. “Apparently most people just move onto the next restaurant since there are so many of them lined up next to eachother.”
As for living styles, little differences stuck out to Martinez and her family.
“Their showers were really small two-by-twos in every apartment we were in even though the apartments themselves were decent sized,” Martinez said. “Also, a lot of people walk places rather than drive.”
Between towns the atmosphere can be strikingly different, like Rome’s and Florence’s exposed graffiti, almost challenging city workers to paint it over, versus the formality of Milan, where open-toed shoes are frowned upon.
“I was wearing flip-flops and I got the dirtiest looks. Flip-flops to them are only appropriate to shower in,” Martinez said.
After a long and eventful trip, the Martinezes returned to the states tired of pasta but contented with a plethora of memories and an experience of a lifetime.