How Italian Culture Changed Me For the Better

By Leora Kahn

A trip to Italy can change your life.

Don't be scared to let travel change you for the better.

In the spring of 2015, I was accepted to study business at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. To say I was excited was an understatement, but more than anything I was nervous. Nervous to leave the comfort and familiarity of my friends, nervous to miss out on memories being made without me, and nervous to be thousands of miles away with strangers. At that point I wished someone had told me that I had absolutely nothing to be nervous about. Those strangers quickly turned into family, and the whereabouts and activities of my friends back at school took a back seat. I was off visiting a new country each weekend, accumulating hundreds of priceless memories. When I returned home, the most frequent question I was asked was, “What was your favorite part?” To me, this is an impossible question. Everything I saw was incredible. Each weekend a new culture full of new foods, people, architecture, and customs. Favorite experience? St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland. But favorite country? Hands down, no questions asked, Italy.

"You may have the universe if I may have Italy." -Guiseppe Verdi

Towards the end of our program, a few of us took advantage of a long weekend and flew into Milan. From there we caught a train to Levanto, a beautiful city on the outskirts of Cinque Terre. For those of you that don’t know, Cinque Terre literally translates to the five cities, made up of Manarola, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterossa al Mare, and Corniglia. Levanto in itself was breathtaking. We stayed at an apartment rented out by a family owned bed and breakfast. Our view from our balcony was beautiful and quaint and everything I could’ve possibly asked for. The first few hours set the stage for the rest of the trip. All of the locals I encountered wore their values on their sleeves. There were caring and gentle and familiar with us, complete strangers.

The first town we ventured to was Monterrosso, my personal favorite. We were determined to find a wine tasting, and what we found was more than we could have imagined. We climbed up a muddy pathway to the top of a hill, only to find an old woman baking and serving wine.

 PHOTO BY LEORA KAHN

PHOTO BY LEORA KAHN

We ordered the best white and red wine I’ve ever tasted. Next was the famous Sciacchetra, which they prided themselves on because Obama himself tasted it at their vineyard (they immediately brought us his personal framed thank you once they found out we were from around DC). And finally, Limoncino which is crazy strong and delicious. Not to mention the never ending supply of bruschetta and pastries. So to answer the longing question, the view, wine, food, and company, made this without a doubt, my favorite part of Europe.

 PHOTO BY LEORA KAHN

PHOTO BY LEORA KAHN

The next day we hiked from Monterosso to Vernazza for lunch. Later we visited Manarola and climbed to the top to see an incredible view and sip on phenomenal sangria and pina coladas. The moment I looked out over the beautiful town, I knew that I had been changed for the better. Never in my life had I been so relaxed, so at peace with myself. Traveling can be a pain with the details and planning, but the reward in the culture and the memories is beyond worth it. Whenever I feel stressed or anxious, I know to go to my happy places. Which are the beautiful vineyard in Monterosso, and the top of Manarola, with a sangria in my hand, surrounded by the beautiful Italian culture.

 PHOTO BY LEORA KAHN

PHOTO BY LEORA KAHN

"Travel, not to find yourself, but to remember who you've been all along."

Take a trip with Travel Italian Style and experience the life changing Italy for yourself.

 

How has traveling changed your life? I would love to hear your comments below!

 


Meet Leora Kahn

Leora is the Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator for Travel Italian Style and is a Marketing student at James Madison University. In the spring of 2015, she was accepted to study business in Antwerp, Belgium, which allowed her to explore Europe and open her eyes to new opportunities and experiences. Needless to say, she is now consumed with a passion to travel! Leora loves to document her travel stories through all types of social media in order to share with everyone the happiness that accompanies exploration.  Leora spent time travelling through 11 countries during her time abroad, while Italy was hands down her favorite due to the blissful culture, beautiful scenery, and tasty food. She cannot wait to visit again soon!