Reality Setting In & The Road to Change

In Going Places, Florence, The Art of Travel Fall 2014 by Ethan Kraft2 Comments

A week before leaving L.A. for Florence, my family and I went to see “The Trip to Italy”, a comedy starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.  The premise of the movie finds the two actors playing themselves, on all expenses paid trip for a British newspaper.  The assignment: to document their travels through the beautiful countryside of Italy, all while eating beautiful food and staying in beautiful hotels. The whole movie was in fact, beautiful.  I left the theatre at the end of the film anxiously awaiting my imminent departure and excited for a remarkable semester abroad. It was then that my mom turned to me and said, ” You know, that’s not what it will be like.  It’s not going to be boutique hotels and Michelin star restaurants every night”. I knew it wouldn’t- but my imagination had yet to realize.  The truth is, I did over-romanticize the idea of living in Florence. A part of me did believe that it would be chianti in the countryside and weekend trips staying in glamorous Italian resorts. I’m not saying that Italy isn’t incredible, it is, ( as we speak I’m on my way to a small beach town to attend a truffle festival), but sometimes the anticipation and expectation can overshadow your experience. The trip may indeed be worth it, but we forget about the early morning wake up, a bus, a train, and a hike to the destination. Isn’t it easier to just relax at home? It’s impossible to stop your imagination from idealizing the journey, so it’s important to change your mood once you arrive.  This has been my goal for the past few weeks.

Last weekend, my friends took me to the most incredible place in Verona, a small city a few hours north of Florence. Its called the Piazzale Castel San Pietro and its one of the quietest and highest points in the whole town.  For generations the Verona’s “precious gem” has been used as a meeting point for tourists and locals alike.  Below the city has expanded miles, growing out and around the San Pietro. To me, the outlook represented more that a pretty view.  It has attentively watched its beloved city below grow and fall, shift and prosper.  I looked around at this place, at the chaos it has witnessed, the change it has had to endure, and I was reassured.  Maybe the idea of change isn’t so scary.  Maybe giving in is the answer and the real trap is is getting too attached the comfortable and the familiar.  Change is a gift- it represents the road to new experiences and exciting challenges.  I try to remind myself of this when after a long day of classes- I begin to crave the typical night in with Netflix.  There is plenty of time for television- now is the time for adventure.



  1. Ethan, I think that we all probably romanticized our anticipated journeys quite a bit, and for you it seems even tougher with this beautiful film as a send-off. I know I had this idea of the beautiful beaches of Sydney glued to my mind all summer. I think that the early morning and the hike and the train ride you give as examples can all be valuable parts of the experience, in a way. It’s a more genuine, “this is where we are living for part of our lives” trip. Plus, you have the sense of accomplishment that comes with forging your little path out in a new place. And I totally feel you on the urge to settle in and watch Netflix sometimes. I can hear Michael Scott just begging me to watch every season of The Office again. However, you are so right; now is certainly the time for adventure.

  2. Everyone “over-romanticizes” – it is an inevitability that accompanies anticipation. I definitely did it before coming to Shanghai. Luckily for you, Florence (from what I have heard) lives up to the hype. Someone was telling me that the NYU campus there is a huge estate once owned by Italian nobility. I can imagine it now…a serene, rustic atmosphere…complemented by italian coffee…I stare at the many fountains and statues while I ponder life. Wait. I’m doing it again. I’ve never been to NYU Florence (or even Florence for that matter) but I am already conjuring up an idealistic (and probably flawed) image of your daily life. Hopefully your future posts bring me back to reality!

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