This post is part of a series about Kyndall’s travels with study abroad program Semester at Sea.

Italy, Italy, Italy… I think my standards were set a tad too high for this country, I didn’t quite know what to expect. We ported in Civitavecchia, a small town about an hour away from Rome. I was very, very anxious to visit this ancient city. As an art history major, Rome was a must, including St. Peter‘s Basilica, the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Arch of Constantine, etc. I was absolutely blown away by all of these pieces of amazing architecture and art, and acted as my own tour guide when Nick and I visited. I cried a little when I saw the massive Pantheon come into view as I stumbled around a random corner. Everything old was absolutely amazing, but all that surrounded these beautiful pieces of history was crowded, smelly, and covered in trash. It was such a tragedy to be visiting such a famous city, and have it be ruined by the carelessness of those visiting and those living there. I have heard people say, Rome is a dead city, they were right. So much, too much attention is focused on the past and exploiting the wonders of the ancient world that not enough attention is paid to maintaining the current city.

For me, Italy was a bust, until I went south to Sorrento, where all of the images of a beautiful and hospitable Italy came rushing back. Sorrento is a quaint town on the cliffs of the Italian coastline. The city was impeccably clean and everyone I encountered were nothing but nice. Everything was very well priced  and well made, the food was delightful, and not once did I feel unsafe or insecure. Lesson learned, get away from the big cities, and visit the small Italian towns.  That’s where the real Italy is.

Side note, I hate with a fiery passion tour groups. I was in one for the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Pompeii.  I have never spent so much time waiting for people to pee, and standing outside the gates listening to the tour guide give us warnings about what not to do. There was barely any time to see anything worth while because everything was so rushed due to the previous waiting. If you’re going to do anything when on a trip, avoid tour groups like the plague, you will have a much better experience if  you just go on your own!

I do plan to go back to Italy, and give it a second chance, as I plan to visit more of the countryside. That’s all for now. Thanks!

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