Italy holds such a special place in my heart which is why I decided to write her a love letter. Italy was the first country I visited outside of the United States. It’s my favorite country in the world and one that’s been very significant to my personal growth journey. I visited for the first time in 2019 and I’ve gone back every other year since. I see a whole new side of the country and fall more in love with the land, culture, food, and people each time I visit.
The first time I went to Italy I was 20 years old and I went on vacation. I took about a month off work to go visit a friend who was studying abroad in Florence. There were a lot of ups and downs during that trip. Like landing and learning I’d be on my own the first few days. And breaking my phone while on a solo day trip in Rome by dropping it in the Trevi Fountain. But I sure got bit by the travel bug while I was there! As well as did a lot of character building.
The second time I visited was two years later. I had gone through a breakup and was questioning what I wanted with my life so I bought a one-way ticket to Europe and traveled everywhere I could. During this trip, I visited Milan and Lake Como. I enjoyed the architecture, food, and bustle of Milan before embracing the art of slow living and getting lost in Lake Como.
Keep reading to hear my favorite travel stories from Italy, and a love letter to my dear sweet Italia thanking her for the lessons she’s taught me throughout my twenties. Stay tuned until the end to learn how you can get a discount on my 2023 Italy hiking retreat!
I still remember the feeling of landing in Florence. At 20 years old, this trip was my first time on an airplane that I could remember and it was my first international trip ever. I had such a confusing time in Paris and was so excited to finally be in Florence with my childhood friend. I still remember the views, the sounds, the feels, and the smells like it was yesterday.
Five minutes after stepping outside of the airport I checked my phone and learned that the first week of my trip would be my first solo trip. My friend ditched me for the first weekend to go somewhere else and didn’t tell me until after I had landed. I got a hotel and texted one of my brother’s random friends who happened to be studying abroad in Italy. She wasn’t going to let me sit in the hotel my first night there, so she took me under her wing. On the first day she showed me all the best that Florence had to offer. It was the first time something finally went right on my trip, and I made a lifelong friend at the same time. 💗
Related Post: 12 Life Lessons I Learned From Traveling Solo
Our day in Cinque Terre felt like something out of a movie. It was an unusually sunny and warm weekday in the spring and I got to explore the five beautiful towns on Italy’s northern coast with my lovely new friends. We are oranges off the vine, hiked in between towns, enjoyed the sunshine, and some daiquiris over the sunset on the beach. All in all, it was a perfect day.
Then we took the wrong train back to Florence. This would be the first of many times I take the wrong form of transportation and end up in the wrong place in Italy.
Towards the end of my trip in Florence I was feeling confident traveling alone, so I took what was supposed to be a day trip to Rome. Almost as soon as I got there, I dropped my phone in the Trevi Fountain. This was before phones were waterproof, so it broke immediately. I relied on my phone for communication (both with locals and my friends back in Florence), directions, and it had my train and plane tickets on them. And I still had a week or so left in the country.
I cried for a minute, and ran into two incredible locals who helped me out and cheered me up. They showed me where/how to print my tickets and took me around to experience the best of Rome for the day. I am so grateful for them, and I would’ve had a horrible day without them. Just goes to show you how kindness can really make or break someone’s day!
Ahhh Lake Como 🥰 A place I got so lost, so many times, both intentionally and unintentionally. Intentionally I would wander the streets. Take the turn that looked most inviting until I got hungry, intrigued, or ended up back where I started.
While frustrating, during the times I unintentionally got lost it drastically improved my Italian because I often ran into situations where I needed help from people who did not speak English.
During the times I got intentionally lost, I started writing what would become my first-ever blog posts in my downtime!
Related Post: How To Get Over Your Fears of Solo Travel
Dear Sweet Italia,
Grazie mille for picking me up while I was experiencing some pretty intense lows and teaching me to lead with love, kindness, and grace. Thank you for allowing me to gain strength and resilience, and showing me that there is so much beauty in the world if we just open our minds to it. And we deserve to appreciate it! All the little things in life every single day. We deserve to eat good food, drink good wine, see beautiful places, and take enjoyable time off work.
Not because we’ve “earned it”, but because we are worthy of it. And we can only give to others when our cups are full.
Florence, thank you for inspiring my creativity and teaching me the art of slow living.
Rome… even though you beat me down pretty low, thank you for picking me back up just as well.
Cinque Terre, thank you for teaching me to enjoy the little things in life (and for giving me the best orange I’ve ever had).
Milan, thank you for teaching me to be unapologetically and fearlessly me.
Lake Como, thank you for giving me (and teaching me) patience and grace.
And Italia – grazie mille for taking me in and showing me your ways when I needed them the most.
Italy is the country that has inspired me the most. Both the land and the people are the best in the world. Come experience the magic of Italy with me and Bucket List Retreats this fall on a week long outdoor adventure in the Dolomites! We’ll be hiking, climbing, eating pasta, drinking wine, and making memories with 10 new besties in the Italian alps.
Our early bird special is still going on, and all you need to do to get $300 off right now is submit your email here and check the box to receive Dolomites trip info. Can’t wait to see you in Italy!
Click here to read more blog posts about life as a full time solo traveler. If you want to make traveling more of a priority this year, watch my free webinar that will teach you how you too can travel full time. And lastly, connect with us on Instagram! We’d love to get to know you! Happy traveling!