Photo Essay 2014

Stephen Stocks

Stephen Stocks

Essay

Ci Vediamo Presto

I could not refuse. I had watched the movie. I had lived in Kansas. This was the moment. The one phrase that would sum my situation as I braved the bustling streets of Rome: “Toto, I've a feeling we're not in...” ZOOOM! A speeding motorcyclist zipped by almost clipping me as I stepped forward. Luckily, a stranger thrust his arm out against my chest catching me.

Pazzo.” He greeted me.

Grazie.” I smiled back. This was Italy’s way of greeting me.

Experiencing a different country is like be born again. You are awestruck, wide-eyed and curious. Your interactions with others humans—who do not speak your newborn dialect—morph into an improv game of charades. In Italy, the game comes complete with complementary over-the-top hand gestures, emotion, and excitement. With that in mind, I was ready to experience Italy.

Domes, towers, and monuments, relics of the past, still dominate the cityscape. From the Vatican to Bologna evidences of the architectural beauty stand today. Some of which still have cultural meaning. For example, Bologna’s famous “Two Towers” - Le Due Torri - boasts a bit of superstition. One should only climb the taller of the towers after graduation from the Universita di Bologna. Bolognese students in warned me climbing prior to graduation would lead to being cursed to spend another year at the Universita di Bologna before graduating. So, I climbed the tower before graduating.

Italian food is the pinnacle of fresh, tasty nourishment.  Recipes were practically relics passed down from generation to generation. I honestly do not know if it is possible to avoid food in Italy.  Walking is predominantly the mode in travel in Bologna and food is located on every street. Even if you do not see it, you can smell the rich aromas wafting through the air. Pasta, pizza, and espresso were everywhere you looked.  Then to top it all off gelato strategically placed on every corner. I was convinced the food placement was all part of a conspiracy to get me to never eat at home. Luckily, I met a couple from Italy that rescued me from the food overload and fed me a traditional home cooked Italian meal.

Italians are passionate, friendly, and lively. From Rome to Bologna I was greeted by helpful people     that showed me the places to eat, visit, and explore.  I would simply have to be courageous enough to speak to them in Italian or play a game of charades. My reward varied from dining at the original Peroni pub to scaling the Saint Peter’s Basilica. The best part is the ability to stay in touch and to one day return.

Studying in Italy was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I experienced it all first hand and unfiltered. Every single day I learned more: culturally, socially, and linguistically.  Now, I am just waiting for the next time I get to inform Toto that I am elsewhere.

Photos


Antonello making traditional Bolognese food


Lago Di Garda


Le Due Torri


Torre del Mangia


Vaticano