My Spring Break

By Dana Harris, Online Opinions Editor

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Spring Break is the best break of the year. The weather is beginning to turn beautiful and the countdown until the end of the school year officially begins (only about eight weeks left)!  This spring break, I toured Italy with my parents and older brother Eric, who is studying abroad in Rome for the semester.

When people first think of Italy, their brains scream “pizza and pasta!” This is correct, as the Italians perfected these dishes.  Unlike most of the food in America, everything is made fresh. There are zero preservatives in the food and the portions are adequate.  They are not the “palm sized” food portions Natalie Portman ate to prepare for her role in the Black Swan, nor are they the “feed a small village” extra-large portions served at the Cheesecake Factory.  For me, each meal was better than the next (with the exception of our late night dinner at the Hard Rock Café).  My advice—the Hard Rock Cafe is better for t-shirts and rock memorabilia than for the food.

Although food is one important aspect of Italy, the Ancient Roman ruins bordering the modern shops were very memorable.  We ate in a crowded café only 50 feet away from the Trevi Fountain, which was completed in 1762.  My mom bought hand-pressed olive oil in a shop just a few blocks away from the Coliseum, the ancestor of today’s modern stadiums.  The work of famous Renaissance artist and sculptor Michelangelo was all over Rome and Florence, from the hand-painted ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, to the world-famous David statue.  Many of the paintings and sculptures featured naked people.  I imagine that jobs hundreds of years ago were scarce and modeling for an artist was easy work, except for the cold.

Most of the Italians we saw were fashion forward.  The men wore nice, fitted jeans. Notice how I said “fitted” and not the baggy “three sizes too big showing butt crack” jeans that are widely popular in America.  The women were also very well dressed and wore scarves with all of their outfits.  In Italy, scarves are more about fashion and not necessarily about warmth.  Many men and women also wore leather jackets of various colors.  Truthfully, I do not believe turquoise leather is a color that occurs regularly in nature.

Now, let me introduce you to the dark side of Rome.  Let me begin by saying we traveled through Rome by walking, taking the trams or riding buses. The buses and trams were generally over-crowded with strangers being shoulder-to-shoulder.  Some of these fellow travelers had a strong body odor.  Not the “oh—they probably forgot their deodorant today”, but the more profound “holy crap—who died?” type.  This clearly does not make any sense because the famous Georgio Armani is Italian and the government should subsidize this must-needed cologne.

Another major negative inRomewas the excessive smoking.  Every person, store and restaurant had a strong cigarette odor that permeated the air.  I could have sworn I saw an 11-year old lighting his date’s cigarette, just before he ordered a bottle of red wine.

The last downer of the trip was the petty crimes.  We were warned about protecting ourselves in crowded areas from professional pickpockets.  Tourists are attractive targets for thieves!  (They know who we are because we use deodorant.)

This is my first of many blog posts so please stay tuned to see what the next post will be about.  Ciao grazie! (Bye, thank you!)