All That Is Italy

Words & Photography by Marisa Albrecht

While traveling throughout Europe I had the chance to explore and experience all that is Italy. From Rome to Florence, Venice to Cinque Terre, everything seemed to be graced with a creative flair. A myriad of cobblestone streets and hidden alleys; locals enjoying a traditional breakfast of a cappuccino and croissant, while their vespas lined the streets outside. Beginning in Rome, we were overwhelmed by the beauty of a long history woven into everyday life. The Romans were on the forefront of creativity with the pieces of the Sistine Chapel to the very architecture of the Colosseum. Whether it was our gourmet meals or the Vatican itself, everything Italian was a perfectly crafted art. Though, it wasn't the man-made creativity that inspired us most throughout Italy, but the natural beauty that sparked an even greater appreciation.

We awoke one early morning to explore Venice's neighboring island of Burano. The still waterways were yet untouched by the taxis and as the sun grew brighter, it highlighted the array of colorful homes. When traveling, it's important to remember to not just see from a distance as a tourist, but attempt to experience each moment as a local. The Italians were not aware of time the same way my american-structured mind was. Dinner may not start until eight, and the conversation lasts well into the night. Course one, course two, course three —there is no rush, only an recognition of good food and good company. Each aspect of a culture can lend it's self as a source of inspiration, and every part of life reflects upon creativity. While getting from place to place, I'm often inspired by how ones adapts with their means of travel. Whether it's bikes filling the roads, trains overtaking the underground, or gondolas gliding between buildings and under bridges on the canals. Most days we found ourselves using the public city transit, or else taking things in from our Euro-Rail seats. We so excitedly hopped between the various forms of transits, there was a thrill in figuring it out as you went. 

Our final and most anticipated destination first caught my eye on the screen saver of my high school ceramics teacher. 

Cinque Terre. 

These series of coastal villages offered an overwhelming sense of restful tranquility that the larger cities couldn't offer. An exhibition of vibrant homes were stacked among the cliffs, set against the backdrop of the sea with its palette of blue hues. Fishermen came and went, tourists lounged on their picture perfect striped chairs, and jumpers braved the distance between the cliff edges and the sea below. A feeling of community arose from these five towns as they were all connected by a single hiking trail overlooking the coast. Hillside venders offered refreshing glasses of lemonade to the thirsty, trekking along the vineyard terraces. The views from above brought a great sense of wonder towards these carefully sculpted villages. We neared the end of our hike as the sun was disappearing, turning the blue ocean's hues into an even deeper sea green.

Thoughout all my travels I realized the world was becoming my classroom, me - becoming a student of life. Seeing, experiencing, and learning from the diversity in each new place. A traditional classroom doesn't allow you to feel the serenity of the coastal life, nor the romance felt between lovers, or fully partake in the traditions of other cultures. New places awaken your awareness to the unique beauty in the everyday. Your senses are heightened and your eyes alert. When you return from a trip, whether near or far, your perspectives are forever new. Minds are refreshed and itching to share, create, or most commonly - travel yet again.