Learning To Be Alone in Italy is written by our good friend Nelly. Through life’s ups and downs, traveling has helped remind her of who she is and where she is from.
Learning to be Alone is One of Life’s Greatest Lessons
So Do it in Italy
What is your name? What do you do? How many times have we met someone and opened the conversation with those two questions? I loved when people asked me those questions because I love my name and what I do. What I did was who I was and it was pretty damn impressive. The Director of Internal Operations for the University of Houston football team.
I was one of the very few females who made it to the Director role in the industry and I loved to brag about it. I had the money, attention, and title.
Then it went away.
It is a scary feeling to wake up and have nothing to do and not truly even know who you are anymore. As they say, when it rains it pours because three days later Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. When you see people lose everything they have ever worked for it puts your problems into perspective. Life is short and the world is big.
I booked a ticket to Rome, Italy.
For the first time in my life, I would take a trip across the globe on my own.
I landed in Rome and booked a room for one night at The Yellow Hostel – this was the only reservation I made in preparation for my two weeks in Italy. Once I landed, it hit me that no one was waiting for me at arrivals and I was completely alone in a foreign country. I instantly regretted booking this flight. I grabbed my bag, tucked my passport into the case and down the front of my shirt. Imagining all the terrible things that could possibly happen to me when I walked out into the streets, I began talking to God because he was all I had as I walked off this plane.
Yet, I got a text from my Tia and she told me to look for a sign with my name on it and that he would take me to my hostel.
I smiled and felt peace for the first time in a long time.
It was a peace that would stay with me for my entire trip through Italy. What is the worst that could happen? We will all die, because we were fortunate enough to live, and I was living.
If you go to Rome stay at the Yellow.
I walked in and Drake was playing – I was home. My room wasn’t ready so they locked my bag up and sent me to the lounge to nap before my Catholic church tour. The lounge had computers, outlets and bean bags. There were about 20 other travelers from all over the world sleeping and charging their phones, it was incredible. “Aye Mate”, said the gorgeous six-foot male on the green bean bag next to me. He asked me if I was a solo traveler. I was almost embarrassed to say yes, but when I did he responded, “hell yeah”. He told me Rome was magic and that he had been here for six months and was flying out later that day. He told me to eat the pasta, drink the wine and embrace the culture. We left our phones charging and went up to the hostel bar to drink wine and talk Rome. I made reservations, booked train tickets and took everyone’s advice who was sitting at the bar with us. We talked for hours and not once did he ever ask, “what do you do”. Because, why would he care? Why does anyone care?
After I got my phone charged up it was time for my Catholic Church tour. Marco was our tour guide a local who loved nothing more than sharing his beautiful city with tourist. It was his honor to share the beauty of this city and its churches with us. We took pictures, ate chocolate and gelato, and learned about the Roman empire and the Catholic Church from a man raised in the city. It was fantastic!
“You Americans come to Rome and sit in the queue for days to go into the Vatican like you will meet Jesus Christ himself and miss the history and beauty inside the churches in Rome,” Marco said. I asked him so many questions about the Vatican, the Mafia, the Catholic Church and the fall of the Roman Empire. Don’t go to Rome and not learn Rome because you will miss the magic.
I had dinner with two fellow solo travelers that night; Ruairi from Dublin and Ruth from the UK. We drank the wine and ordered the pasta. We talked about Trump, the EU, health care and relationships. We were complete strangers from different cultures and beliefs, but there we sat laughing and even danced in Rome. Magic!
The next few days I woke up early and stayed out late exploring and falling in love with the buildings, the history, the people and most importantly my thoughts.
➢ I walked through the Colosseum
➢Threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain
➢Read every sign in the Roman Forum
➢Sat in the courtyard of the Vatican Museum and enjoyed a café latte
➢Prayed in St. Peter’s Basilica
➢Listened to a violin player outside of the Pantheon
➢Bought wine and sat with a handsome fella from London on the Spanish steps and talked about love
➢I learned to make pasta from scratch
➢ I lived
Then I put on my backpack, showed up at a train station and picked a city on a map to explore.
➢ I danced on the Ponto Vecchio bridge
➢ Poured my heart out in a journal entry to God while I sat on the steps of the Piazzale Michelangelo
➢ Listened to music at a record store outside of the Piazza del Duomo
➢ Laid by the pool of my Hostel
➢ Went for a run and stopped to take pictures with the statues
In Cinque Terra…
➢ I hiked from one village to another
➢ Picked out grapes and watched them turn to wine
➢ Sat by the ocean and watched the boats come in
➢ Had lunch with a couple from Norway celebrating their 50th anniversary
➢ Stayed up late talking about politics, religion and death with our feet in the sand
➢ I got lost and loved it
➢ I ate dinner by myself on the grand canal
➢ I took a selfie in the Bacino di San Marco
I will never fear being alone again. I believe I learned the greatest lesson of a lifetime. I learned who I am away from the influences of my culture, my busy and my nonsense. I learned to be grateful for everything that I am and every bone in my body. I learned all of this in one of the most beautiful corners of the world.