I have learned to find that my favorite country that I keep returning to (besides France) has been Italy. In the time that I have been abroad in Paris, I have been to Italy three different times, all to three different parts, and I continue to find beauty and joy in every place I go. In the fall, I went to Rome and Pisa (just for the day), and got to see cool ancient ruins, statues, and buildings. In January, I went to go visit a BC friend in Florence, and walked around this beautiful city, as well as being able to meet the nicest Airbnb hosts ever.
During the Florence visit in January, I went to the Cinque Terre and took an Airbnb bike tour through the hills of the Cinque Terre, which was a happy accident going in January, because there are no tours then. The only thing that was running was this bike tour, and I am so happy that that was the only thing available because there was next to no people there as it was the low season. That day legitimately changed my life, being able to bike around in the absolute beauty of the place, as well as having a guide telling me about the history of the region.
This time, for my vacation at the beginning of May, I headed to the north of Italy, going to Venice, Milan, and Lake Como. My trip, with a fellow BC friend, started in Venice, where we arrived at the airport and took a boat directly from the airport to the Airbnb which was a new experience for me. Our Airbnb was in a quiet part of town in Venice, and our host knew French better than English. So my French came in handy because she explained everything to us in French.
Venice was crowded, but beautiful. I had the opportunity to meet up with some BC people and friends studying abroad there for the semester. After Venice, we took the train to Milan just for the afternoon, and although it was raining, we got to see the Duomo which was absolutely beautiful. We stayed in a room rented by Airbnb and so we had the chance to talk to our host in Milan. This reminded me about my French host mom who was fun and filled with knowledge. Our host talked about how since the boom of tourism, some things are no longer the same, for example the Cinque Terre. She talked about how these small spaces are not meant to host thousands of people and sometimes that takes away from the beauty from the space. This had me thinking more and more about what it is like to be a tourist in another country. To also take into consideration the importance of thinking about the environment you are in and being able to appreciate it whereas at the same time being conscience of your actions.
Our nice host made us breakfast before we caught an early train to Lake Como, where there was unmatched beauty. It was really easy to get to and there is a public ferry that is cheap to go around to other towns on the lake. Lake Como was one of those places that was so nice to go to just to relax, and although it was still rain, the mist over the lake was something I will always remember. At dinner, my friend from BC (who I also went to high school with) and I ran into some people from Georgia, which is where we are from. So we talked to them for a while, which was really nice. It was a remembrance of home, but at the same time being in an unforgettable setting.
Finally, we headed back to Milan for the day before I had to go home, and I got to see the inside of the Duomo, which was PACKED with tourists (so if you go, I highly recommend not going on a Saturday, it is as if you are at the Eiffel Tower on a Saturday). We tried to go see the painting of the Last Supper by Leonardo DaVinci, but the woman said they were sold out until June (we went on May 6). So now I have an excuse to come back to Milan to go see it. Honestly, every Italian person that I met was so nice and opening, and helped me learn new words along the way, and the people that I met on this trip are people I will never forget.