Summer was over, so it was a perfect time to take a long awaited vacation together with my girlfriend. We went to Italy for one week, spending most of our traveling enjoying vineyards and small towns along the North-West coast side from La Spezia till Piombino.
This was my very first time in Italy, and it was better that I expected. While most people in Latvia were trying to escape from the rain, we enjoyed great weather, Italian food, coffee, pizza, wine, culture and local people. We had a lot of fun there and I wish to go back again.
While we were traveling I had no idea I will share this experience in here but here you go, so.. There are 5 things I learned from my trip in Italy:
1. Italy is not as expensive as I thought it would be
Traveling is expensive and I was expecting that. Since I have a degree in economics I mostly measure things in numbers. Average salary in 2017 in Italy is almost 3 times higher than in Latvia. And it is a big enough difference.
As it turns out – renting a car, staying at AirBnb and eating in restaurants is almost the same price as in Latvia. Just a little higher. Biggest difference was the gas price – if Latvians spend around 1,10€ for one liter, then Italians ~1,40€. Although espresso in Italy usually costs only 1€, so if you are big on coffee, then that’s a little paradise for you, my friend.
For us it’s been awhile since we had a vacation together so we did not count pennies, and honestly, it felt pretty good. We did not live super fancy but we also did not spend a lot of thoughts on things. If we felt like doing or eating something, we just did it! On average per person we spend around 80€ a day including car rental, gas, AirBnB, food and of course couple of cups of good coffee. I think it’s pretty good.
2. I learned how to slow down and enjoy what is in front of me
Italians have a beautiful culture, especially if we are talking about their coffee ritual. They don’t start their day like most Europeans might do with to-go cup of coffee before work or school. Their lifestyle is so relaxed, they expect to have a time to sit down, choose their favorite pastry and slowly enjoying small breakfast with a cup of coffee.
Experiencing their easy going lifestyle made me realize that sometimes I am going through my daily life with such a rush that I miss these little things. This idea I took back home with me, where I focus more on slowing down, enjoying my morning or lunch coffee, rather than just having it with me to go.
3. I value my relationships more than before
I did not see my girlfriend for a whole summer because of the internship in USA. Although we both hitch-hiked in Europe together few years ago, this trip was a meaningful adventure and time for just two of us. It was 7 straight days with each other with limited time of being apart and I was grateful for every single day we had together.
It was interesting to watch how our roles unfolded during the trip – she took charge of navigation and maps, while I had to be the driver and help with my positive attitude, despite little things like weather and changes of plans. Overall, this trip was a great test of the strength our relationships and our desire to take more adventures together in the future. And I think we passed it!
4. Food, food, food..
Believe me or not, but Italians know how to cook. Seems like they take cooking pretty serious, especially if we are talking about sandwiches, pizza or pasta.
In La Spezia we found this small pizzeria La Pia Centenaria which was the oldest pizzeria in town. It filled with locals having their quick lunch. The most interesting fact for me was, that all the tables were so close to each other, that it seemed like they were not bothered if you hear their conversations or you are practically with your elbows in their plates. It was fun, cosy, unexpected and yes, it was a pretty good pizza and focaccia I had.
5. Trust your instincts and improvise
Since we were traveling with a car, we had a freedom to go places we wanted. We visited well known cities like Pisa and Florence, and many small towns near the coast side. Once we arrived in Piombino, we decided to take a hike along the seaside. It was a beautiful small town, located on hill facing the blue horizon.
Over the course of 7 days in Italy we were in many coastal towns with similar views and beaches, but this one was different. There we found this small beach between high cliffs with only couple of locals sunbathing. Seemed like only few people knew about this place and we were lucky enough to find it. Waves were high and dangerous, sun was warm, water was just as blue as the sky.. It was our little paradise.
I am glad we did not have a clear plan of how we were going to spend every day. We just went with the flow, we asked locals for suggestions, used google and randomly chose places to visit.
Overall, trip to Italy was one of the best adventures I’ve had so far, and can’t wait to go back. I hope you got good vibes from reading about my experience in Italy and I inspired you to take some time off and see the world. The world is a pretty big place, and there is so much that we can see and learn about. See you along the way, my friend!