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Grata Italia: The Italian Way

In October, I spent two weeks traveling in Italy, visiting beautiful cities, eating delicious foods, and learning about the rich culture and history that has impacted the people today. My journey began in Milan, followed by the Emilia-Romagna region on a special culinary tour, and ended in Rome. Beyond the delicious food and beautiful vistas, this trip reignited my love for travel and especially my passion for Italian culture.

My Italian heritage has always held significance for me. From recipes passed down generationally to hearing the beautiful Italian language spoken from my early childhood, my family has always cherished and celebrated its Italian culture. While attending Yale, I had the opportunity to study Italian with the most passionate and enthusiastic professors who made learning fun. I expanded my study of Italian by studying abroad in Siena, Italy through a Yale summer session program. During this time, I expanded my knowledge of Italian and gained a deeper understanding of my Italian heritage. My summer abroad was formative in solidifying my deep appreciation for Italian culture and language.

I was then exposed to the way that Italians so fully enjoy life’s pleasures. The Italians approach life in a way that I admire deeply. Italians prioritize leisure and enjoy the simple things. Meals are acts of love—just as much about the people and conversation as the delicious and bountiful dishes. Food is often locally sourced if not truly farm to table. Italians live active lifestyles and walk everywhere.

This recent trip was particularly meaningful because we not only enjoyed delicious food, toured interesting places, and saw amazing sites, but also, we met many locals and learned about their culture and family history. Throughout the Emilia-Romagna region, we had the honor of visiting authentic producers of Proscuitto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano, balsamic vinegar, and torrone.

Each of the businesses described the story of their family’s specialty and history and explained their production process. These well-respected businesses share a respect for tradition, a commitment to excellence, and a contagious love for their product. Additionally, having not traveled abroad in several years, it was eye-opening to see the ruins of an ancient society as in Rome and be reminded that there is so much life that came before us.

Through this adventure, I have reconnected with my Italian roots. By speaking the Italian language, exploring various regions of Italy, and discovering new sights, sounds, and flavors of Italy, I have returned home with renewed energy and zest for life. I hope to incorporate the Italian ways of enjoying life’s pleasures by living an active lifestyle, prioritizing leisure, thoroughly enjoying meals, and cherishing my family and friends.

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