After several decades in Southern California, I left California in 2008, and I’ve traveled ever since. In addition to serving as a guide for students and faculty traveling in Italy, I also write a travel blog, Gracefully Global, featuring my personal travel experiences and travel tips. If you are a student or professor planning a trip to Italy, feel free to contact me for more information at peggy AT peggyryan DOT com.
A NIGHT IN VENICE published on Gracefully Global 1/13/2014
A few weeks ago I was on a commuter train headed to Venice on a cold, quiet Saturday evening in Italy. Despite the rain and my exhaustion from a long week of teaching English and a late night the night before in Bologna, I decided to follow through with my plan to catch the last day of the Venice Biennale exhibition that weekend.
My English student appeared on the train from out of nowhere, jumping on seconds before the departure. He’s a captain with the Italian military police and was on his way home from work to his hometown of Ferrara, a short train ride from Bologna.
He sat down next to me. “Teacher! Where are you going?”
Caught in the middle of a daydream, I had to think a moment about my answer. “To Venice!”
He gives me a knowing look. “Alone? And looking so tired?”
These were legitimate questions. But I had a good answer. “I love to travel alone. I always make new friends.”
He thought a moment about my answer. “It could be.”
“But,” I continued, “tonight is going to be a quiet night at my hotel. I am exhausted.”
Famous. Last. Words.
TREVISO: THAT BEAUTIFUL LITTLE CITY JUST AROUND THE CORNER published on Gracefully Global 2/17/2014
A country as beloved by Americans as Italy means there are a lot of tourists here. And while there’s technically nothing wrong with lots of tourists, the general consensus would be that high ratios of tourists greatly diminish the potential for experiencing a country as we dream of, stepping out of the predictability of our lives into a temporary, magical world where everything is different and fascinating. I’ll never forget the American woman who unknowingly cut into all of our “magical” experiences when she loudly announced at a restaurant in Venice, “Hey, y’all got somethin’ ta eat ’round here?”
I can’t tell you how many times I have been to Florence or Venice or Cinque Terre and felt sorry for some of the tourists. Now, don’t get me wrong – a trip to Florence is amazing no matter what. But an Italian vacation hitting only the most famous cities means never truly touching the spirit of the Italian lifestyle, which, technically, is what brings us here to begin with, right? Instead, I recommend with gusto – even if your next vacation outside of your country is short – scheduling in some time in a city off the beaten path, no matter how small and insignificant that city may seem. These are the places that incubate those travelling moments you’ll never forget.