Feeling inspired by a recent post by a dear friend and photographer, I felt I had to blog about my trip to Italy in June. A bit of back story, my grandparents on my father’s side are from a tiny fishing town in Sicily called Castellammare Del Golfo. Back when I was an ungrateful teen, my parents sent my brother and I for my “sweet 16th” birthday to Italy for the summer. I remember being so incredibly upset I was going to miss out on a summer with my friends, boyfriend and parties just to spend it with my 14 year old brother in another country, staying with relatives I barely knew. Cool story Hansel. Well, like most learning experiences, I left Italy that summer with thousands of memories, a handful of good friends, world cup celebrations, a belly full of the most delicious food, fluency in a 3rd language and of course the beginning of my passion for photography. I had returned twice since.
In May, we had my parents over for dinner and my father handed me an old photo album from Sicily of photos I had taken in 2004 with a crummy point and shoot. I laughed and looked through the whole book, making fun of my terrible hair and when I thought wearing Roxy was cool. My dad asked me as I was looking “Do you think you can take better photos now?” and I scoffed saying of course I can, I have about 8 years of experience and 6 cameras since then, not having any idea why he was asking or why I was looking at this album. I mean, come on Big Mario. “Well good, because you’re going. Happy 30th.” Um what??! My dad is known to go above and beyond, with his “we only live once” attitude and spontaneous trips. Surprised and ecstatic, I packed my bags to turn the big 3-0 in the same place I turned 16. Pretty memorable if you ask me.
Here are snippets of our trip. We flew to Paris, then to Bologna then took a train to Venice, stayed for 2 days, flew to Palermo and stayed in Sicily for 9 days then flew to Pisa for 1 day. It was so unbelievably amazing. Sometimes, when you travel when you are younger, you don’t get to appreciate what you see, especially when get to be all grown up and become a photographer. It was exciting to be given the chance to capture it again with different eyes. I ate my face off, saw cousins, aunt, uncles, swam in the most gorgeous water I have ever seen, witnessed lively euro cup games, stood on a volcano, drank my weight in prosecco and laughed endlessly with my parents and Shawn. My 30th was not painful, it was fantastic. I remember sitting on a cliff as the sun was setting at this little restaurant on my actual birthday, sipping limoncello and espresso after a tremendous seafood feast. My mother handed me a card with a photo of me in it, on my first birthday, smashing cake in my face. I immediately was drawn to tears and held the card close to my chest, letting out a big “thank you.” Lucky isn’t even the word.