italia, il bellissimo paese

Written by Ricky, a once dewy-eyed tourist in Italy

Ever felt the need for an escape from your confining urban life? Ever felt the desire to see remnants of century-old history? Ever felt the need to eat mouthwatering meals and mind-blowing desserts? Perhaps these are your true desires, perhaps they are not. Perhaps what you wish for has yet to surface or perhaps you have forgotten your own wishes in the midst of the storm of life. In any case, one thing is for sure: a holiday is a must and a great one is one of life’s greatest joys. And so, may I present you…

the Bel Paese Italia or Beautiful Country Italy.

I visited Italy with my family about 6 years back, back in 2015. Truthfully, it was during this trip when my age—both mentally and physically— bore fruit to something that would later become one of my saddest regrets: the realization of my time in Italy and the enormity of an impression it left on me. What makes Italy such an amazing place to visit is its ability to provide a unique experience whenever, wherever you are. For example, take a train down south and see the dazzling island of Sicily, the Mediterranean sea’s largest Island, and take part in its local rich and vast cuisines. You could also head towards the middle of the boot and immerse yourself in the renowned city of Rome where history itself has been etched in the buildings posing its centuries worth of age while its people continue thriving within. Maybe you fancy yourself sipping an ice-cold drink while sunbathing on the stunning beaches of Naples or maybe you still just can’t let go of the urban feel and decide to head to Milan to experience the clash of the old and new. In any case, Italy is a jewel chest with intricate compartments each housing a unique gem shining on its own. This blog will describe some places I visited in this incredible country and of course, how a young teen unknowingly awakened his desire to travel the world.

In bocca al Lupo!

Venice, La Serenissima

Every once in a while, you come across a postcard or a graphic with a picture of a city studded with a tightly-packed architecture built charmingly but what really draws your eye is its blue waterways weaving through its contrasting pastel-colored buildings. A photogenic work of art, it reached so worldwide the city has become a symbol of art and water. My journey in Italy began right in the heart of Venice and the following days awakened my love for the sea and its unrelenting significance to the perpetual progression of human life.

Rialto Bridge, Venice

Burano Island, Venice

To the eyes of a boy who lived his life in a heavily urbanized area, soaking in the spacey, surreal feeling as I stood atop the pavement with just an arms reach into the water, this little memory remains vivid to me after all these years. Consequently, I still remember how my younger self occasionally comprehended the unknown depth of the waterways and I can say I tried hard not to. We spent about 5 days in the City of Water, visiting its smaller islands whilst discovering hidden gems, and incidentally created somewhat embarrassing memories. A day before we left Venice, our family took a boat to the Island of Burano(yes the picture in the cover) when a peculiar incident occurred. Nothing traumatizing but this little event made us pay more attention to something called time.

The island of Burano was famous for one major reason: its beautiful houses each painted in different colors, creating the picturesque island of Burano. We arrived and toured for a good half-day and decided to have dinner before we headed back inland. The sky was beginning its transitions as the brilliant blue faded into an alluring mix of orange and purple. We chose a restaurant that served the some Italian seafood.

Seafood dinner under the Italian Sunset

The fish was amazing, the salad was refreshing, the spaghetti was juicy, the wine was….I didn’t know since I did not drink any, and the soup was fulfilling. Did I mention the water? I remember the time I took a drink when we landed in Paris before heading to Venice. Opening the small 500ml bottled water, I took a sip and nearly spat it out. I was not expecting such a distinct, almost raw taste when it was just plain water. Maybe this was what they called mineral water back home, the thing that costs nearly 4 times more than normal bottled water. After a few days, I adapted and the water stopped bothering me anymore, at least not as much as it did. As our wine grew thin, the remnants of crusts remain, and the spaghettis licked clean, our lovely dinner was coming to an end. I casually asked when we were heading back and my dad assured me we would get back once the sun went down. The waiter overheard our conversation and informed us of a rather “useful” information. He said the last boat leaves 9 pm sharp and advised us to head to the station now unless we wished to stay the night here. I took a look at my watch and saw my dad was doing the same. It was 8:50.

You see, this may just well be an embarrassing little error we blundered, but that was not the case. Consider this. When does the sun set back home in Yangon? You would say roughly around 6:45 pm in the summer or around 6 during the winter. Regardless of the seasons, the sunsets I have gone through for innumerable times throughout my life occurred around the 6pm mark. In light of this, comparing to the sunset of Italy, the sunset happening around 9pm would surely gape the mouths of several of us here. Needless to say, we may have ran for several minutes until we reached the station after hurriedly paying the bill. We took off fast enough to not even notice the charming ciao the waiter gave us as we left the restaurant. Fortunately, we arrived just in time and caught our breathes as the last boat took us back to the City of Water and our adventurous day came to an end.

Touring the local market in Venice

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