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Adventures with Alisha

Tiramisu in Venice

ITALY | Friday, 10 June 2011 | Views [1399]

Going to Italy was my first experience abroad besides India.  Italy is a relatively western country so I didn't expect many things to be difficult over there.  Unlike India, it had regular plumbing and toilets and showers and even if it didn't, I wouldn't have minded.  When I went to Italy, I was in store for the art and history lover's dream: one of the most cultural places in the world to be, where art and history were intertwined and ancient structures and buildings existing to actually prove it.

Soon though, basilica after basilica (and yes, I even waited for a wedding to finish outside the Santa Maria della Vittoria so I could take a shot of The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa), I soon realized that despite the art, despite God being everywhere, despite everything else, I hadn't connected with the country in a truly emotional way.  Yes, I got to see some of my most favorite art paintings and sculptures like Judith Slaying Holofernes, David, and Pieta.  Was it a great experience?  Would I have traded it for anything else?  Most definitely not.  However, that was all Italy was.  It was an academic's fantasy land.  To actually see where history had been made and imagine what went on from 27 BC through the Renaissance and more!  Who wouldn't love it?

However, there is one experience that stuck out to me the most and still to this day, it might even outshine the religiosity I felt in Italy (even though I am not religious by any means).  The first afternoon I had gotten there with my family, my father ordered three tiramisu, the ever-famous Italian cake, because he had seen it off the television show Everybody Loves Raymond and wanted to try it ever since.  We ordered it in basking heat and ate it.  I soon felt sick to my stomach and was watching the gondolas glide up and down on the Piazza Rialto of Venice, so glad that I wasn't on one, though desperately wishing I could have gone on it instead of eating the tiramisu. So I waited for my parents to finish.  They finished.  We waited for our waiter.  We watched the gondolas.  We waited some more.  I heard some yelling.  (What a surprise in Italy right?)  I look to my right.  It's our waiter.  He was shouting to someone across the other side of the river and the bridge.  He glanced at me and left.  We waited some more.  I soon grew impatient, wondering why our waiter was making us wait for the check.  I looked around.  Everyone else seemed fine, talking and not noticing the humidity in the air.

Finally, it dawned upon me that this must be the Italian meal.  Order and never be bothered again.  We had to get the waiter.  Used to the treatment of being rushed out of any restaurant in America, we had waited for two whole hours for our waiter because we were afraid of being rude.  

This was the most pivotal eye-opening experience, when I realized that even in Western countries, where the toilets and showers and plumbing are the same, every country is different and has a different history.  In just that moment, I saw how lively and laid-back the Italians were compared to the average American on a weekday afternoon.  Yes, it's a touristy place.  People generally go to be happier than they are in their daily, mundane lives.  But at the same time, I could pick out the tourists from the native Italians.  This moment is when my mind opened to traveling.  And I realized, despite how much I knew academically about a country, there was no replacement for culture as is going there and experiencing it.  Even for a couple of weeks.

Tags: italy, restaurants, tiramisu, waiter

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