I Returned to Italy: Here’s What Changed

In November 2021, I took a two-week solo trip to Southern Italy, which lived up to every expectation I had after nearly three years of planning (thanks to COVID-19). Almost exactly a year later in November 2022, I returned to southern Italy – Matera and Lecce, to be exact – because Italy continued to tug at my soul. Although I wasn’t exactly entering the country with the rose-colored, inexperienced glasses I had been wearing the year prior, making a repeat trip to two special Italian towns carried new adventures.

The Language

Whether it was the mediocre attempts at practicing Italian that I made sparingly in my free time using textbooks and apps like Duolingo over the last year, or my obsession with researching places to see, how to get around, and most importantly, reading local restaurant menus in Italian, I found that my ability to speak and comprehend the language had somehow improved. I was better equipped to order a coffee and carry on basic conversations with locals than I was during my first trip. In fact, a large motivating factor for me to return to Italy (and take more trips in the future) was my desire to embark on a language-learning journey. Although I am nowhere near fluent in the language, I was impressed by how things seemingly “clicked” in just 12 months of minimal language-learning effort.

My Confidence

The anticipation and excitement I felt before my first trip to Italy was unmatched, and quite honestly, made it hard for me to function as an adult and focus on anything else in my life. As each day passed and my trip became closer, I felt more and more like a child on Christmas Eve night. This time around, I was less antsy and more level-headed about what to expect. I was no longer nervous about using the trains to get around, and when I did accidentally miss a train connection enroute to Matera and ended up temporarily stranded in the small city of Gravina in Puglia, I was far from panicked. Thanks to my previous experience in the Puglia region, in addition to my fervent (and sometimes manic) research habits on Google Maps, I knew Gravina had quite a few sights to offer in the short two hours before I could take another train to Matera. I was also astounded by the kindness of a young girl at the train station in Gravina, who spoke just enough English to be able to tell me which connection to take on the next train, as well as a friendly elderly man I encountered on the street who chuckled after he saw my failed attempt at petting a street cat. While the “highs” of this Italy trip were not quite as high as they were in 2021, my slower itinerary and mental clarity allowed me to more deeply immerse myself in the culture and reality of life in Southern Italy.

Scratching an Itch

Before and after my first trip, my life revolved around traveling or the pursuit thereof. My interests in anything else were on hold, which greatly impacted my financial and romantic decisions. After my second trip, I needed a bit of time to decompress, and didn’t feel an immediate urge to plan a third trip. As a matter of fact, I tried to start planning again weeks later, but nothing was piquing my interest like before. As unsettling as it is to think that something I have based my life around for the last four years is possibly losing its luster in my eyes, whether temporarily or permanently, it feels a bit freeing to no longer be a slave to the obsessive thoughts and irresistible urge to travel. If I’m being honest, part of me hopes the desire returns sooner rather than later, but a large part of me wonders if this is God’s way of opening me up to finding fulfillment closer to home.


Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Stay up to date with our events and get exclusive article content right to your inbox!

Latest Stories

Other Featured Articles


All Article in Current Issue

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay up to date with our events and get exclusive article content right to your inbox!