Ciao dear readers!
Today’s blog article is going to be about traveling – and what it’s like to travel in Italy as a foreigner.
First of all let me say that EVS is not only about doing volunteer work, but also a lot about this – traveling, getting to know the country, its people and its differences. Since you are already living in another country, you should use the opportunity to see as much of it as possible.
So far, I was able to see Rome, Lecce, Gallipoli, Monopoli, Ventimiglia and some smaller towns around Pesaro. I had a lot of fun during this time, enjoyed the regional cuisine (supplì in Rome – yummy!), saw at least 30 churches within only 4 days (by far the most beautiful was the “Basilica Cattedrale Maria Santissima della Madia” in Monopoli) and learned some new things (did you know that they still use Regional Trains from the 70’s or 80’s in some parts of Puglia? Well, I didn’t, and so my trip from Lecce to Gallipoli turned out to be quite an adventure!).
Traveling by yourself or with friends also requires some sort of independence and autonomy in organizing the trip, finding accommodations and so on. Sometimes it can be hard and you find yourself in situations that you didn’t consider before (like waiting for your next train for 3 hours in the middle of the night – no problem, until suddenly it’s cold and weird creepy people start showing up). But in the end, you will have gained some useful experiences.
So far, I was really lucky when it came to company for my travels. Since I didn’t have my on arrival training yet and therefore also don’t know any people in Italy that I could travel with, I didn’t really know with who I could go or whom to visit.
But when I (more or less spontaneously) asked some of my friends from Germany if they were interested in a vacation in Italy, they always said yes.
Deciding where to go is one of the hardest tasks for me: because there are so many interesting places to see, and I want to go everywhere. Of course I want to see the most famous cities like Venezia, Genova, Firenze, Napoli and Roma. But I also got a lot of insider tips on smaller towns and villages that are worth visiting. So I’m trying to take a vacation every month, to travel as much as possible to see as many places as possible
After deciding on the destination, the two big questions are: how to get there? And where to stay? Since we are young, bold and poor, we were looking for cheap options. In my case, that was always the train. For accommodation, we used the website airbnb.it, were people rent their own houses or rooms in their apartment. This way, I got to know the adventures of the InterCityNotte, Regional Trains in Puglia and the train station of Ancona, where I had to spend my night while waiting for the train to Rome.
In Lecce, we met Giuseppe, whose apartment we were renting. He was one of the nicest hosts I ever had, providing us with anything we might need and inviting us to the jazz concert of his friends. In Rome, we were hosted by a very energetic and authoritarian Chinese woman who gave us several tips on how to not get our money stolen in the city. You see – quite the adventure
On my travels so far, I met some really interesting people and also had lots of funny and hilarious moments. In Ventimiglia (where I had to stay one night because I missed my train back to Pesaro), I was helped to find an accommodation by a very nice bartender who called all the places he knew in order to find a room for me (Ferragosto in Italy – another crazy story!).
In Monopoli, where we stayed for a day on our way back from Lecce to Pesaro, we couldn’t find any luggage deposit at the station, so we had to walk around all day with our suitcase – until a very nice restaurateur offered to store our bags for the day.
In Rome, just across the street from our apartment, we found one of the coolest Bar/Restaurant/hostels: It’s run by Americans and also all the costumers seemed to be English speaking. There, we had the best burger/wrap in a long time, and also heard some stories of people from all over the world (if you ever have the chance to go: “The Yellow” is quite close to Termini train station).
These are just a few examples of some really nice people and situations that we encountered. Of course sometimes there were also unfriendly people and moments in which we were frustrated – imagine walking around with your luggage in the historic centre of Monopoli for 3 hours, when it’s really sunny and the streets are not even but consist of hundreds of brick stones.
Also, we had to learn that the Gladiators who offer to take pictures with tourists in Rome can be quite aggressive and intrusive in their approach (which almost led to a physical fight between said Gladiator and my friend, who he was holding on to very tight and not letting her go).
But in the end, we found a solution for every problem – and that’s also what this experience is about: Growing with the difficulties and problems that you might have to face.
All in all, my travels around Italy so far have been great, full of experiences and encounters of nice and interesting people and places.
When coming back, I’m always a little bit sad that the great time is over, but over the last 3 month, I started to feel comfortable in Pesaro, so every time I return, it’s like coming “home”.