Although they are highly enjoyable, holidays in Italy aren’t really conducive to interesting storytelling. Perhaps this is because every single person’s Italian holiday gush sounds exactly the same. If you’ve ever fallen victim to one of these recountings, you know the glazed over look in the eye as the holidaymaker retreats into their visceral memories of gelato and pizza, the enthusiasm in their voice as they recite the notorious buzz words. . . The Vatican. . . The Colosseum. . . The Pantheon, and the eager hand gestures, channelling the inner Italian spirit with the thumb pressed securely to the index finger.
Naples is primarily a jumble of dark, graffitied alleyways paved in cobblestone; it is also the birthplace of pizza and the seemingly random, semi-regular marching bands were happening.
The Umberto, Napoli
One experience from Italy stands above all others in terms of exemplifying the spirit of the Italian people. It is catalogued in my mind as The Italian High School Moment 🌋
Italians are known for their boisterous and animated way of being. It is my opinion that the strength of this stereotype is severely understated. And thus, Katie and I were completely unprepared for our introduction to the Italian Spirit, which happened, not in Italy, but before we even arrived, after thirty hours of travel, while on a flight from Munich to Naples.
Somewhat delirious, we rolled onto our last late flight. We were looking forward to passing out and waking up at our final destination. So wrong. Right as we got nestled in, an entire Italian high school flooded through the plane like a tsunami hammering a peaceful shore. Conventional plane etiquette was ejected as seat belt signs were disregarded, speaking levels were fixed at ‘scream,’ and our seats were kicked and shaken. Some freshman behind me actually managed to grab some of my hair while using my headrest as a handrail to crawl over his friends. While I was turning to–at a minimum–shoot a dirty glance, my momentum was interrupted by a home girl shrieking out a countdown tre… (she stood up on her seat) due… (she thrust her cell phone in the air) uno… (she pressed play). Transfixed, we watched as, on queue, the entire plane started yell-singing, “The club isn’t the best place tofindalover so the bar is where I go. . . M-MMm. . . Me and my friends. . . fklsdmf(indistinguishable)ljhkl. . . Giirl you knoow I want your loove/your love was handmade for somebody like mee. . .” It was as incredible as it was awful. Invoking simultaneous feelings of watching something rare and unreplicable while also dredging up the impulse to start punching teenagers. A small eternity later, when the plane finally landed, the entire highschool applauded and broke out in … the Italian National Anthem? This. Is. Italy.
Mont Gambera above Positano
Positano, Amalfi Coast
Italy may already be famous for high quality production, think Ferrari, Gucci, and great wine, but that shed manufacturing, flawless.
The main reason that we travelled to the Amalfi Coast was to do some climbing in southern Italy; being one of the most beautiful places in the world is merely an added bonus to the mind of a climbing addict. The rock in Amalfi was beautifully featured, but almost all of the routes seemed to be really sharp. Katie sliced her finger open on a sharp hold on our first full day of climbing and managed to drip blood all over the route and the rope, before she even realized what had happened.
I managed to get psyched on a relatively good quality line on some rare, finger-friendly stone. La guerra di Piero (The war of Piero) is 30 meters long, running out a sustained overhang, and dripping with tufas. It finally eases into a couple of bolts of slab and the anchors crown the very top of the cliff. A couple of creative rests in the overhang let you ease the pump before tackling a hard crux near the top involving a knee scum and a core crushing match on a crimp rail, a couple more insecure, shouldery moves followed by a couple of heady runouts leave you at the chains and a spectacular view from above the coast. I was pretty surprised that it went down on our last afternoon in Amalfi.
Skeletons spooning at Herculaneum
you already know
Americans aren’t exactly internationally recognized as being the most graceful tourists. The fact that our adolescent country is insulated from most of the rest of the world by two huge oceans, leaves us a touch ignorant on the cultures of others, and leaves us more vulnerable to committing tourist faux pas; like staring in petrified silence when the waiter asks if we want gas in our water. Our standing as Americans has not improved since we elected President Faux Pas himself to represent our country. These prevailing ideas maintain a low-level desperation in my psyche to leave a good impression as an American: “We’re not all like this. . .Remember the Obama days. ” Or, when I’m really desperate, “I’m Canadian.”
Despite my best efforts, these moments of ignorance are sometimes unavoidable. On this trip, it was while ordering a “latte” at a cafe in Naples. I was expecting, you know, a latte the delicious coffee drink that you can order anywhere in the world. So, I was perplexed when the waiter brought me simply a tall glass of milk. Confused, I stared at it for several seconds before taking the glass from the tray without saying anything. A moment later understanding dawned, latte is the Italian word for milk. My fear of being judged for my faux pas trumped my desire for an actual cafe latte, so I ended up just laughing about it with Katie while I drank my tall glass of warm milk.
The Creation of Adam
I’ve never been a fan of the idea of the pope, but Francis has to be one of the best humans alive. Francis 2020?
*Also, jk I’ve never claimed to be Canadian.
*Ed Sheeran, you would love Italy