• Skyler Neal

Travel Diary: Italy

Note: I'm going to skip over Paris because I was pretty much sick the entire time I was there.


Stepping or rather flying over to Paris and Italy was like stepping into another world as cliché as it sounds. I was so in love with the UK that it was hard to leave it behind, distantly fading away in the clouds behind me. I remembered as I rambled off the plane into the tiny Florence airport that I didn't know a word of Italian other than "Grazie". I was so tired as I boarded the bus into the city that I accidentally said "Merci" to the bus driver. It was then that I realized how American I am.

My one night in Florence was spent nicely with a new friend from the hostel and good food. If you've got only one night in any city in Italy find you a friend and some good grub. I promise you'll be wholeheartedly satisfied. One thing I really love about coming to Europe is that dairy here is much less processed in the U.S., therefore, my lactose intolerance simply ceases to exist when I hop across the pond. I mean thank goodness. If I couldn't eat pasta and cheese for the rest of my life I wouldn't know what to do with my self. I'm going to write a little poem about my night in Florence because I don't want to worry about my grammar for the next five minutes.


Let's dine by candlelight,

tonight as the moon glows

awakening this spirit in hiding.

Golden glows fail to reflect on me

rather the moon than the sun.

All I feel is warmth around me

from the pasta

to the pizza

for all the people here

walking past.

Time is slow here.

Cinque Terre

I arrived in Monterosso first. What a dream come true it was to finally see these watery cliffs holding onto little houses, ranging in all the colors of gelato. The sea was the most magnificent blue I'd ever seen in my life and all I wanted to do during those hot days in May was to jump right in and float. The ride up to the hostel amongst the hilly terrain of Cinque-Terre took place in a tiny little van, carrying five or more excited tourists ranging from American (me), Canadian, Brazilian, and British. Unfortunately, I don't do well with bumpy twisty roads in any scenario. I was lucky to not throw up.

The hostel was in the tiniest European village I'd ever seen. Only five tall villas lined the cliffs and there was only one restaurant: a pizzeria. The villa next door housed an old Italian lady who always said hello to the neighbors, rolling her eyes at the tourists next store. Oh, and of course she had cats, could it really be any other way? A shy, handsome Italian man helped us all with our bags. For thirty euros a night, this was a steal. My room looked out upon the mountainous countryside. The "clubhouse" deck outside was my favorite place to hang out and talk to the guests. We kind of felt like a family in a way because there were only about nine of us all together. A black cat from the Villa next door often crawled into my lap hoping to get a pat or two and of course, I gave in. The owner of the hostel cooked us genuine Italian food dinner every single night. I have to say it was definitely the best Italian food I had on my entire trip, not only because of the taste but the people I was eating with made it that much better. You could tell the owner really cared about us which made the experience that much more beautiful. As I sat on the couch looking out over the mountainscape an orange glow filled the space creating a wonderful kind of real heaven, one that I only hope to return to one day. The next day, I explored the five fishing villages via train and all I wanted to do was look at that blue water for the rest of my life. There's something about the ocean that's always grounded me, never let me drift too far away. Of course, I did finally swim in that crystal-like water as time neared the late afternoon. What a perfect ending to my day in Cinque Terre.


My first impression of this city was that it was dirty and very hot. Not the best starting point. My first meal was bought at a market down the street from my hostel. Lasagna with a side of cigarette. Nope, I didn't smoke, it was accidentally baked into my lasagna. Luckily, I was in the traveling mindset of "shits going to happen and it's out of my control." I will say that market had some damn good applesauce packets which is pretty much what I lived on for the next three days, not even complaining.

I'm not really going to into the touristy stuff I did here because to be honest, as Rome was the last destination of my Europe trip, I'd pretty much gone broke at that point. Instead of paying a hefty fifty euros for a ticket into the Vatican, I hung out with a few chill Australians who appreciated the art of good pasta and good beer. We hung around crumbling grande fountains, them smoking cigarettes, me playing late eighties hits, trying to relish in this moment of feeling truly alive because it had been a while. Shoutout to my wild Australian friends who made Rome THAT much better.

My last day in Rome was probably the best day and that's because of the fact that I'd purchased a moped tour. No, I wasn't driving, yes I almost fell off. Worth it? YUP. What a fantastic way to see the city of Rome. I definitely had my Lizzie Maguire moment in Roma, thanks to a fantastic tour guide. Here's another poem because again, I cannot write properly right now.


Pre-summer heat

bathing me into a kind of light

filled with pizza and pasta

These punk kids

these cigarettes

this beer in my hand

I could not give less of a fuck

what a rare feeling in a storm

of expectation and reality.

I remember her saying

I choose how I die

if I can help it

cigarette hanging off her lips.

If I could help it

I'd choose to live too.

Wait, this isn't a part of the poem I just wanted to say I'm noticing a thought pattern of mine that sort of gravitates towards pasta and pizza and I feel good about it.

That's my trip